Students on Colorado State University's Pueblo campus will have the option to study cannabis beginning this fall.
State officials on Friday approved a bachelor's of science degree program in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, which said it was one of the first such programs in the country.
"The new major is a pro-active response to a rapidly changing national scene regarding the cannabis plant," a proposal for the program by CSU-Pueblo officials says, citing shifting attitudes toward cannabis and its legalization for recreational use in numerous states, including Colorado.
The program will be part of CSU-Pueblo's department of chemistry and consist mainly of chemistry and biology coursework with some classes in math and physics, the proposal says.
Students could choose one of two tracks -- either a natural products track focused on biology, or an analytical track that focuses on chemistry.
Graduates could begin careers either in the cannabis and hemp industries or in the government. But they could also be competitive in a "wide variety of businesses outside of the cannabis industry," it said, such as agriculture, food science, biochemistry and environmental sciences.
"Educating students who are capable of understanding cannabis science is required for the industry in all its aspects to be effective and safe for the consumer," it said.
Between 2014 and June 2019, marijuana sales in Colorado exceeded $6.56 billion, according to the state's Department of Revenue. With taxes, license and fee revenue, the state's revenue reached more than $1 billion.
CSU-Pueblo anticipates a strong demand for the program, its proposal said, and believe as many 60 students could be enrolled in the major after four years.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education believes it could be the first of several cannabis-focused degrees that pop up at Colorado colleges in the near future.
CSU-Pueblo's program will not be the first of its kind. Its proposal cited Northern Michigan University's bachelor program in medicinal plant chemistry that it said was "primarily tailored to those wanting to enter the cannabis field."
CNN has reached out to CSU-Pueblo for comment.
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