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Illinois University Grants First Graduate with Minor in Cannabis



Western Illinois University (WIU) first introduced two new cannabis-related minors in the fall of 2020: The College of Arts and Sciences’ Cannabis & Culture minor and the School of Agriculture’s Cannabis Production minor. This spring, WIU awarded a degree for graduation to the first of its five Cannabis & Culture minors, Allison Coats.

“I learned so much about the medical efficacy of cannabis use in this minor. We learned about how Charlotte Figi, a young girl with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, became a leading figure in the CBD movement. She even changed the mind of Dr. Sanjay Gupta (from CNN) about the medical and moral obligations our society has to allow people to use cannabis to treat certain illnesses,” Coats said.

According to Anthropology Professor and the minor’s co-creator Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, there is no other public or private institution in Illinois that offers a minor addressing the socio-economic, historical, religious and cultural aspects of cannabis in the United States and around the world.

The minor requires 18 to 19 credit hours, consisting of courses from a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology, botany, history, liberal arts and sciences to philosophy, religious studies, English and political science. The minor also includes specific courses, like Cannabis Culture, Religion & Drugs, Contemporary Moral Problems, History of Drugs, Introduction to Public Policy and Ethno-botany, and others. The minor’s first study abroad trip is planned for Spring 2022 to Amsterdam.

An online version of the minor is set to debut in Fall 2021. Many students in the minor express interest in working in Illinois’ cannabis industry, which is why the minor aims to not only explore the socio-economic, historical and cultural impacts of cannabis, but also allow for an understanding of policy and cannabis market knowledge.”This minor provides a solid foundation for understanding the socio-cultural, historical and politics of cannabis use in the U.S. and around the world,” said Sarah Haynesm, WIU Religious Studies and Liberal Arts and Sciences professor and co-creator of the CAS minor. “WIU’s Cannabis & Culture minor gives our students numerous, diverse educational opportunities that examine the various aspects of the cannabis trade.”

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