In assistant professor Monty Vacura’s course, students grow, harvest, dry, cure and even sell cannabis plants. This may sound like textbook drug dealing, but it’s actually a three-credit course in SUNY Orange’s biology department.
“The class is a balance between workforce development and then the academic education side,” Vacura said. “I mean, basically, it feels like I’ve built a business.”
SUNY Orange, in Middletown, launched the Horticultural Cannabis class last year.
Students must take general horticulture as a prerequisite, but the classes are sequential to follow the natural cycle of the cannabis plant, Vacura said. Horticulture 101 is in the spring semester – students plant cannabis and it grows over the summer. Then, in the fall, Vacura said students take a second course that focuses on harvesting and curing the plant.
The students are also learning to navigate through the regulations and documents needed to sell cannabis legally. The class even sold last year’s batch of home-grown flower to a local business, Vacura said.
In these classes, students aren’t allowed to actually touch high-THC plants. Instead, SUNY Orange’s class is studying plants with below .3% THC content, so it is classified as hemp. This allows students to explore all the benefits of cannabis, which Vacura said goes far beyond just CBD and THC. (Full Story)