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SUNY Cortland to offer one-credit cannabis course

Hemp farming is a growing industry in Cortland County and is soon to be a billion-dollar business nationally.

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has recently become a popular supplement that can help those with anxiety, pain and other ailments.

Eleven U.S. states have legalized recreational use of cannabis and New York may soon join those ranks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently included legislation to legalize recreational use of the plant — which he estimates could add $300 million in revenue to state coffers annually — in his 2020-21 budget proposal.

SUNY Cortland’s Chemistry Department has created a one-credit course — Chemistry, Cannabis and Society — that will tackle these issues and more.

Professor Greg Phelan will teach the course. It will introduce students to the science of the various chemicals produced by the Cannabis plant and how those chemicals are extracted and used. The class will also delve into the current state of Cannabis research, legal topics surrounding recreational and medical legalization and the historical impact of the plant on certain groups of people in U.S. history.

“This course is not an advocacy for the legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s a much more academic approach to this plant and some of the things this plant can do,” Phelan said. “We’re going to go into the various advocacy groups and the benefits it has, or its supposed benefits.”

Colleges around the nation are starting to offer similar courses. SUNY Morrisville created a Cannabis Industry minor in 2019. Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a SUNY Global Cannabis Center for Science, Research and Education during his State of the State address in January.

Phelan hopes that local partners, including Cortland County farmers growing hemp, may take the course themselves and add to the insights gained by other students.

The course will be offered during the fourth quarter of the Spring 2020 semester and during the Summer 2020 session. It is intended for students of any academic background seeking an additional credit or for those who are simply interested in the subject matter.

For more information about this and other one credit course opportunities, contact the Extended Learning Office.