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Famed scientist and TV personality Neil DeGrasse Tyson was once asked to run for president. He replied with an emphatic "no." He said it's not the man or woman at the top that makes the difference. It is the education of the people that changes hearts, minds, and the direction of the laws.
That's why when we saw Colorado State University Pueblo start offering a Bachelor of Science in cannabis, we knew it could be a major catalyst for the whole industry.
This isn't a clever marketing gimmick or novelty either. The degree will require rigorous courses in biology and chemistry.
While it might sound like a small development, it could have sweeping implications.
At the most basic level, it helps bring facts to an uninformed public about the benefits of cannabis in medicine and wellness. Even more importantly, it pours educational resources into the science behind cannabis.
That could accelerate medical breakthroughs using cannabis or even industrial breakthroughs on how best to grow and extract cannabis.
You might wonder why your current doctor does not prescribe cannabis and CBD in particular for treating certain ailments. While the doctor him or herself might believe in it and actually use it secretly at home, they are often stopped from offering it as a solution.
Before cannabis can become more mainstream in medical communities, there needs to be more research and studies on treatment using cannabis. Currently, few research dollars are available because even after all the progress made on the state level, marijuana is still classified as a harmful substance federally.
Therefore, having a class of knowledgeable cannabis advocates graduating college will immediately start to spread that knowledge, organize the public, and elect the right people into office.
Not only that, but graduates will also have the skills necessary to work in the industry, doing research and being able to discuss their work with potential customers, suppliers, and investors.
That's essential to building the workforce that will take the cannabis industry from a scrappy upstart to a legitimate powerhouse. Just look at how universities have been essential to the evolution of the tech sector.
Schools like Stanford, California Polytechnic State University, USC, and others supply so many of the minds behind Silicon Valley's biggest firms. Having some of the world's best technological universities in the region is a major reason tech firms continue to cluster in Silicon Valley. The blueprint is already there for the cannabis sector.
And it could be another way Colorado gains first-mover advantage in the cannabis industry. Not only was it the first state to legalize recreational cannabis use, but it's building the educational infrastructure to supply the industry.
Over the past five years, legal weed sales in Colorado topped $6.5 billion, according to the state's Department of Revenue. Add in taxes, licenses, and fees, and the state's take reached more than $1 billion. And it doesn't stop there, as it creates support jobs, improves public health and safety, and provides more money for further investment in education. As many as 300,000 people are predicted to be a part of the marijuana industry by this year. Arcview Market Research, which follows cannabis industry trends, projects the industry will support 467,000 jobs by 2022.
The more success programs such as CSU Pueblo have, the more programs are likely to be developed. It is a positive feedback loop that will create both the demand and the supply in an industry that is already knocking down barriers and making early adopters big money returns.
It's not too late to claim your stake in this explosive new industry.
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