Though the smoke has not yet cleared on when legal medical marijuana will become a reality in Ohio, one Ohio college campus is ready to put it to the test. Hocking College will not only launch laboratory testing of medicinal cannabis, but will offer college courses related to cannabis testing.
Hocking College will offer an associate of applied science in laboratory sciences with majors in medical, chemical and cannabis laboratory, which has been approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The proposed cannabis major is currently under review by the department.
Starting Dates Unclear
The Hocking College lab will be ready this fall but will not be able to start testing until Ohio’s medical marijuana program is officially off and running. The exact date is anybody’s guess at this point. Certificates of operation will be issued once inspectors have approved the labs, according to Stephanie Gostomski, from the Ohio Department of Commerce said.
“We don’t want to set up false expectations,” Gostomski told the Columbus Dispatch.
Courses in the medical and chemical laboratory majors could start as early as January, the Dispatch reported. Courses in the cannabis laboratory major will be offered as soon as possible, pending state approval.
“Hocking College’s unique hands-out, day-in-day-out practical experience with these advanced analytical instruments will certainly set them apart from the more theoretical knowledge programs found in larger four-year institutions,” Dr. Jonathan Cachat, the program’s director at Hocking College, told OhioCannabis.com.
An Investment to Be Reaped
Hocking College expects to spend about $2 million from its budget reserve fund to start the lab. The school has a general fund budget of about $30 million.
The lab’s operating expenses will be funded by testing fees from marijuana growers and processors.
About five to six workers will run the lab initially, testing cannabis for potency but also for the presence of pesticides, mold and fungus. Students will also use the lab for hands on learning.
“For us at Hocking College, being able to bring laboratory science jobs to southern Ohio allows us to fulfill a piece of our economic-development strategy,” Hocking College President Betty Young told the Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Matures with New Legitimacy
An Ohio college offering medical marijuana laboratory testing and a cannabis major certainly brings more legitimacy to the plant.
“Federal funding used to be a huge barrier for these institutions wanting to get involved in this way,” Dr. Amanda Reiman, a cannabis researcher at UC Berkeley who currently serves on the board of the International Cannabis Growers Association, told CannabisNow. “But, more and more, state medical cannabis laws are including these institutions as a vital part of their program. I think this is a move in the right direction.”
To qualify for medical marijuana in Ohio, you will need to register with the State Board of Pharmacy and be diagnosed with having a state approved condition by medical marijuana approved by the state. Dr. Blatman will be one of the first approved physicians in Ohio to recommend marijuana, but the specifics of the program are still pending.