It’s time to move on. To get positive. To roll up our sleeves and solve some problems. Let’s increase the student headcount, raise revenue and put the University of Southern Maine on the map by starting a new degree program, Marijuana Studies.
With pot decriminalized and the marijuana industry poised for explosive growth, USM can meet a vital business and economic need. Jobs for the 21st century are at our fingertips. According to the world’s largest marijuana-friendly job posting service, there’s “an unprecedented demand for marijuana-related jobs throughout the country.”
“The rapid growth is generating hundreds of new jobs,” said Dan Kingston, president of 420careers.com.
With a rapidly expanding industry come countless opportunities for budding entrepreneurs who will be desperate for marijuana knowhow and business skills. USM should ride this train. Let’s claim our niche in the higher education marketplace by offering the first academically accredited program in pot education. It’s a no brainer: the industry is already worth $2 billion. By 2018, when 14 more states have legalized weed, marijuana sales will blow past $10 billion. Rolling out this program is sure to create some serious buzz.
Lest you think this unprecedented, other colleges and universities have or are going to have degrees in coffee and wine, as both products have played critical roles throughout human history and around the world, affecting virtually every field of endeavor and shaping history. Jesus turned water into wine. Self-professed happy stoners Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg organized revolutionary new businesses. Obama inhaled. Great masterpieces of countless artists, musicians, writers and scientists were produced while stoned.
The interdisciplinary degree in Marijuana Studies will drive USM’s reputation higher. Even the seriously toasted know that grow shops are everywhere, so internship opportunities are springing up like weed. Anyone even remotely familiar with college students/consumers/customers will see this program’s revenue-generating potential: As the first such program in the country, out-of-state students and their higher tuition dollars will flood the USM admissions office.
There won’t be a problem putting the courses online — it fits the Netflix/working adult market perfectly: home from a hard day on the job, roll a big one, fire it up and log into your class. A couple of months later — presto bango — another course bites the dust. Finally, and most importantly, the degree can be mounted without incurring any new costs. Just add these courses to existing teaching loads, pay the professors in-kind, and those pesky profs will be too laid back to even care.
Dude, even the heaviest stoners will be able to complete this degree in four years. The introductory course, “Better Living Through Chemistry,” will survey marijuana’s major contributions to science and society. Students would then take two higher-level courses from each of the three following areas:
Area A: “One Toke Over the Line” is a kaleidoscope of courses studying marijuana’s influence on and inspiration of societies over time and across geographic regions. Possible courses include “Grass Roots,” “Intoxicants in the Ancient World” and “Reefer Madness: Art, Music and Literature.”
Area B: “The Science of High” breaks bad into studies of the psychological, pharmacological, chemical and agricultural aspects of marijuana. Possible courses include “The Botany of Buzz,” “Grow Weed” and “Save the Planet: Marijuana, Recreation and Leisure.”
Area C: “More Bhang for the Buck” offers a smoking hot set of courses on the awesome business potential of the marijuana industry, including supply chains, marketing, retailing vs. wholesaling, and crop financing. Possible courses include “Roll Your Own: Grow Pot, Stay Stoned, Get Rich,” “Money Laundering or Banking: Comparing the Risks” and “Higher Profits.”
Credit-bearing experiential courses using the city as a laboratory are a must. Students will have hands-on encounters with marijuana use in a wide range of cultural and business settings. Seminars with law enforcement officers, district attorneys, criminal court officers, social workers and rehab counselors are central. Additionally, students will perform no less than 100 hours per semester of unpaid labor as grow shop and medical marijuana dispensary interns. Honors students qualify for a free, one-week, all-expenses-paid experience with the prison-industrial complex. For credit, of course.
To demonstrate competency, senior theses will document student proficiencies as marijuana consumers and providers. Student research will show mastery of the marijuana potency scale, cutting-edge cultivation practices and the latest bong technologies. All research must exhibit an appreciation of the role of marijuana in human cultural, agricultural and pharmaceutical progress.
The status quo is a bummer. Change is not optional. Together, we’ll weed out negativity. Cooperating, we’ll lighten up. Collaboration is the key to making USM a wicked cool joint.
Susan Feiner is a professor of economics and women and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine.