• U.S.
  • Education

A Michigan University Is Offering the First-Ever Degree in Marijuana Studies

2 minute read

Students at a Michigan university might have to do a double-take when they look over the school’s degree options. After all, what college lets someone major in marijuana studies?

But that’s exactly what Northern Michigan University is offering as part of a four-year bachelor of science program. It doesn’t seem like a fit for the classic stoner stereotype, however.

“When [my friends] hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Wow, cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana,’” Alex Roth, a 19-year-old sophomore at NMU, told the Detroit Free Press. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”

Technically, the program is called “Medicinal Plant Chemistry,” and it combines chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing and finance classes into one course study. There’s even specialized entrepreneurial and bio-analytical tracks for students who want to focus on the business or scientific aspects of the degree.

While cannabis is definitely a focus of the program due to the increasing demand for chemists, entrepreneurs and horticulture experts to tap into the state’s booming marijuana industry, students won’t be using it or cultivating it.

“No one is growing marijuana. No one is violating and state or federal laws,” NMU Board of Trustees member Steve Mitchell told the Free Press. “But there are a lot of plants that can be studied.”

And knowledge of those plants can help students one day work with medicinal marijuana to treat a variety of illnesses from cancer to anxiety disorders.

Dr. Mark Paulsen, director of the university’s chemistry department, told the paper that the program is growing.

“We’re gaining students every week,” he said. “With a full 12 months of recruitment, we expect that to grow.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com