South Side CC to have 1st degree in Cannabis Studies

CHICAGO – A state-of-the-art greenhouse sits on the campus of Olive Harvey College in Pullman at the precipice of a unique achievement.

The greenhouse will help 140 students learn how to grow and care for hemp plants as part of a certificate program that will be the first such associate degree program at a community college in the state of Illinois next year.

The conclusion is called ‘Applied Cannabis Studies’ and was designed to help students get started in the cannabis industry. Courses in the degree include cannabis and law, hemp horticulture, basic chemistry, and general botany.

“Our students have the opportunity to have hands-on experience with our hemp plants,” said Dr. Kimberly Hollingsworth, President of Olive Harvey College. “Cultivation, how to run your own pharmacy. The good thing about this new degree is that it is science based.”

According to Hollingsworth, the degree can help propel students into high-paying careers in the cannabis field as cannabis consultants, extraction technicians, master growers, and dispensary operators.

Torrence Jackson is currently a student in the certificate program at Olive Harvey College, where the hours he accumulates translate into the 61-credit degree.

“I want to own a cannabis dispensary,” Jackson said. “I also want to work with pharmacies to help them get their products because I’m also a supply chain major.”

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois, it has blossomed into a billion-dollar-a-year industry. But for the past two years, minorities have been largely barred from the first round of cultivation and dispensing licenses issued by the state of Illinois.

The first licensed crafts dispensary, predominantly owned by black people, opened in Rockford last week. Dubbed “Star Buds,” the operation took two years to get approved.

Everett Berry was also one of those minority entrepreneurs who struggled to break into the cannabis industry. Berry now owns the ‘Mia’s Heart Hemp Collective’ and prepares to sell its products when the ‘Bronzeville Smoke Shop’ opens November 1 on East 47th Street.

“We are in the process of building a brand new, state-of-the-art hemp facility in the 21st District,” said Berry. “We want to offer at least 200 jobs.”

In July, Illinois granted nearly 150 new retail cannabis licenses. Of this, 41% is majority owned by blacks and only 4% by Latinos.

“We know there is inequality,” said Dr. Hollingsworth. “This [degree] gives our students an advantage in this application process.”

Upon completion of the associate degree program, students can either enter industry directly or pursue other STEM-related courses at a four-year university. South Side CC to have 1st degree in Cannabis Studies

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