MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Northern Michigan University made headlines this school year as they became the first in the country to offer Medicinal Plant Chemistry major, a billion dollar industry that is growing nationwide in both health and business.
"The evolution in regulations into medical uses of marijuana is happening in Michigan right now," said Dr. Mark Paulsen, the Chemistry department head. "Because of all those changes, it’s important that consumers know they have safe reliable products that they are using, so we are trying to train the next generations to help with that."
The program began in the fall with 25 students and since have doubled. But it’s the number of applicants signed up for future semesters where faculty is seeing the largest increase for a new program.
"For fall of 2018 we have 699 applications," said Derek Hall, a spokesperson for NMU. "For a new program, these numbers are so huge we haven’t seen anything like this."
And of the 699 applicants, only 150 are from Michigan meaning the rest come from all over the country hitting 46 states. The program also sparked interest outside the US, attracting applicants in Puerto Rico and Guam.
"It’s really going to lighten up campus in a way, so we are excited about that," said Paulsen.
But with excitement comes planning, as now the program must discuss how they wish to handle such an increase in students.
"The biggest crunch would be lab space," said Hall. "Labs are limited to for the number of students that can be in there, and the facility that teach those labs. Will we have labs on Saturdays? Will we fill more of those empty times? Yes, we will."
The program plans to place students into a medicinal plant chemistry internship with a company this summer.