More and more college programs are offering programs focusing on cannabis. North Bay College is the first in California to offer a degree in hemp cultivation. Santa Rosa Junior College will become the first community college in the state next year to develop a certificate and degree program in the cultivation of hemp. The hemp courses are part of the Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture programs. Their intentions are to align their programs with current industry trends. Because hemp is such a versatile plant, it is the base of a multi-billion-dollar legal industry. Hemp is used for medicine, fiber, oil, seeds, and textiles – to name a few.
As part of the curriculum, they are growing a 0.8-acre test plot which is registered with the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and follows all federal, state and county legal and regulatory requirements. Because hemp does not contain significant levels of THC, it is legal at both the state and federal level. It is increasingly being used to make CBD which has numerous medical applications. The other benefit of hemp is how dynamic it is. This makes it an ideal teaching plant. It is used to teach plant science and plant propagation techniques in indoor and outdoor environments while addressing the tenets of agro-ecological sustainability.
While the program won’t begin until next spring, students can register in an existing Environmental Horticulture program such as Nursery Management. The faculty are currently revising that program to focus on hemp agriculture. Students who will make up the Hemp Agriculture program will have the option of focusing on the hemp or marijuana industries. The college does not directly involve themselves with the industry that the students choose to learn about.