Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois is set to become the first community college to establish a cannabis lab.
In 2019, the school established the state’s first academic cannabis program, and now, it will be outfitted to properly serve this new avenue of study. The lab will feature a 3,000 square-foot cultivation area on-campus, which will allow students who want to work with cannabis to gain hands-on experience. While the students won’t be legally allowed to grow cannabis as long as it is federally illegal, they will be allowed to handle certain plants that grow similarly to cannabis. “There are plants that are very similar in cellular structure that will provide students the academic background they need to enter this space,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs
Joianne Smith, president of the university, announced that “botanically identical” plants will be available so that students can learn. Both tomato plants and hemp will be grown. “As laws evolve, the infrastructure of this lab will prepare us to transition to incorporating cannabis into our curriculum,” added Smith.
PharmaCann, the cannabis company partnering with Oakton Community College on this project, donated $600,000 to get the program up and running. “We are now working together to create the next generation of leaders in our growing cannabis industry,” claimed PharmaCann CEO Brett Novey. “We also share a steadfast commitment to social-equity priorities. We are beginning to develop a pipeline of highly skilled candidates from disproportionately impacted communities.
In addition to funding the new program, the school also put aside $50,000 to fund a scholarship for Cannabis Education Programs. Students of color and those impacted most by the War on Drugs or domestic violence will be prioritized.
The lab will be available to students starting in the January 2022 semester, with a 12-credit hour cannabis program.