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Cannabis 101: Cannabis cultivation in the classroom

Education

UConn senior Stephen Jepsen is passionate about cannabis.

It’s hard to believe a greenhouse with pot is on a college campus.

The University of Connecticut is one of the only places growing cannabis for research purposes.

This pot won’t get you high because it’s actually hemp

“When this flowers, it produces excessive cannabinoids. We can use that for medical purposes. People use CBD. People use THC in some ways to help treat some stress disorders like PTSD,” Jepsen explained.

Cannabis includes hemp and marijuana.

UConn is the first in the nation to offer an elective course on cannabis cultivation.

Jepsen also works in the lab where students are making a map of the plant’s genome.

“If we can pinpoint where the genes are coming from – that’s the hard part – we can alter them,” he added. 

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years. It only became criminal in the past century.

Existing research is limited and often comes from questionable sources. 

UConn is now at the forefront.

“We proposed it to the university and they were all for it, which is great because the industry really wants this. Simply because we’re looking at this from ‘Where are workers going to be able to get this information from a quality source? Not just an online forum that they’ve read,” explained Professor Matthew DeBacco. 

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Professor DeBacco is an expert in powdery mildew. He’s helped grow facilities manage the disease, which threatens pot plants.

His students study real scenarios together.

Considering this is the first pot cultivation course in the nation behind these doors, it generated a huge buzz at UConn. But once students got a glimpse of the workload, about 100 dropped out.

Still hundreds are packed inside UConn’s largest lecture hall.

The attraction: The controversy and the industry’s future.

“It’s really ahead of its time. Usually, you take classes and it’s like history and you’re learning about things in the past. We’re learning about CBD and cannabinoids, things that are so current,” explained Sophomore Morgan MacMillan.

“It’s not just a bunch of stoners in a classroom. It’s actually people interested in the science of it and where the topic is going to go in the future,” added Sophomore Sarah Powlishen.

While students problem solve, Connecticut lawmakers debate legalization.

Pot could be legalized by the end of the legislative session in June.

Students like Jepsen want in.

“I’ve done the math. A 5,000 square foot growing space can bring in millions of dollars every year,” he said. 

He could become a researcher, grower, or something to be determined.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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