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University to offer cannabis-growing minor

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) – The art of growing cannabis will become a minor subject at Western Illinois University in the fall, school officials announced Monday.

The university’s school of agriculture in Macomb is acting on interest officials expressed in such a class before adult-use marijuana became legal in January. The minor in cannabis production will require 18 to 19 credit hours with additional coursework offered by Western Illinois’ department of biological sciences.

School of agriculture director Andy Baker says faculty members are still working on partnerships with hemp producers and those in the recreational and medical marijuana businesses.

“There’s certainly enough hemp producers in the state that (students) could get experience working in the field,” Baker said. “There’s going to be some opportunities and we’re still developing those relationships.”

Bakers says he anticipating class sizes of 20 to 30 students, adding that in addition to graduating marijuana growers, there is a new bureau for cannabis regulation in the Illinois Department of Agriculture. That means there are going to be new employment opportunities in the state.

Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois totaled nearly $40 million in the first month, according to state officials.