WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — There's something growing at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, literally. The school is working to match the demands of an expanding cannabis industry.
"The industry has grown dramatically over the last decade with more and more states approving medicinal and recreational use of cannabis products," explained chemistry professor Donald Mencer. "We need people who can properly analyze the products, so the consumer actually knows what they're getting."
Starting this fall, the university will offer undergraduate and graduate programs centered on cannabis, growing it, using it, and more.
"This is interdisciplinary. It's with biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and who knows what else?" added Adam Vanwert, a pharmaceutical sciences professor involved with the programs.
"When we think about it, cannabis, recreational, over 50 percent of people will give cannabis and CBD to their pets now, and there's a lot of they take it, children take it to adults. One thing we want to do is we want to make it safe," said Marie Roke Thomas, the pharmaceutical science department chair at Wilkes.
Wilkes University already has a permit through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to grow hemp plants for research purposes. So when this program starts in the fall, it's going to be able to hit the ground running.
Students are already showing interest in the program, and the research involved in the study of the plant is garnering excitement from staff too.
"Teaching about the things that aren't normally discussed? I love talking about things that you don't normally see out there," added Vanwert.
"We have a good opportunity here to fully train students to go into those fields, to have Dr. Terzgahi do the biology part," added Thomas. "It'll be very unique in Pennsylvania and because we do have a school of pharmacy, and I think that our pharmacists and our students will be really very well educated, especially when cannabis goes recreational."
You can learn more about these programs by visiting Wilkes University's website by clicking here.
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