Cannabis News: February 2020

Cannabis News: February 2020

Higher Education: Colorado State University-Pueblo offers cannabis major

Starting this fall, CSU-Pueblo will offer a bachelor of science in cannabis biology and chemistry.

The degree program will offer students two tracks–a natural products track focused on biology or an analytical track that focuses on chemistry. Students will have to complete general biology and chemistry courses in addition to nine proposed cannabis courses to complete their degree.

This is Colorado’s first cannabis degree program, and one of the first cannabis degree programs in the country. Northern Michigan University and Minot State University in North Dakota offer bachelor programs in medicinal plant chemistry.

“We have been working on this particular degree program for over a year now, and the chemistry department and the biology department have put together a program that really emphasizes the science of cannabis,” said David Lehmpuhl, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at CSU-Pueblo.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved the program earlier this month. According to Lehmpuhl, there are plans to create more cannabis-related degree programs at universities in the state.

“We anticipate this is the first of several cannabis-related degrees and certifications that will be developed by Colorado institutions of higher education in the near-term,” Lehmpuhl said.

“It’s a challenge in a way because cannabis has both positive and negative connotations. We want to make sure that we are viewed as being not pro or anti-cannabis, but just looking at the science behind it,” Lehmpuhl said.

“To those of us who are scientists, this is really exciting.”

Kentucky gives medical marijuana another try

A bill to legalize medical marijuana passed in Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee for the second year in a row. House Bill 136 would legalize medical marijuana and allow doctors to prescribe it. Qualifying medical conditions have not yet been spelled out but would be determined by a panel of eight doctors, four public advocates, and a pharmacist.

The bill passed in the House committee last year, but failed to receive a full floor vote. The bill is expected to pass in the House but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said that he hadn’t seen sufficient research into medical marijuana, but there’s a “narrow path” to passing the bill in the Senate.

“It’s a balancing test of do the goods outweigh the bads,” Stivers said. “And we just haven’t had anything done on that.”

Advocates of the bill say that medical marijuana is a better alternative to addictive opioids.

“If House Bill 136, medical cannabis, were to pass in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I would not be a criminal,” said Eric Crawford, who spoke before lawmakers. “I would not have to live in fear. I would not have to lay awake at night worrying about law enforcement coming to my home. I would not have to stress about going to jail, or losing my home, work or freedom.” Crawford has been in a wheelchair since being involved in a car accident in 1994.

If the bill were to pass in both the state House and Senate, it would create one of the more restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. Smoking marijuana would be illegal, although flower would be available for other uses. Colorful packaging and gummies would be prohibited. Even THC may be a no-go under the bill, something that would be decided on at a later date by the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services.

90 percent of Kentuckians support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a recent poll by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. That’s up from 78 percent support in 2012.

States with medical marijuana have fewer workers’ compensation claims

A new study found that in states with legal medical marijuana, there was a 6.7 percent decline in workers’ compensation claims.  Medical marijuana “can allow workers to better manage symptoms associated with workplace injuries and illnesses and, in turn, reduce need for workers’ compensation,” according to the study.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati Ash Blue College and Temple University analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The data spanned from 1990-2013 and included survey interviews from 150,000 U.S. residents 15 and older.

“We think there is a lot of overlap between conditions for which medical marijuana can be used in managing symptoms and the types of illnesses that lead people to file workers’ compensation claims,” said study co-author, Catherine Maclean, an associate professor in the economics department at Temple University.

When workers did file claims, they were for shorter periods of time, on average, after medical cannabis was legalized.

“Our findings add to the small, but growing, literature on the effects of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on labor market outcomes. On net, the available findings suggest that MML passage may increase work capacity among older adults, reduce work absences, improve workplace safety, and reduce WC (workers’ compensation) claiming and the pain and suffering associated with workplace injuries.”

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