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Hocking College (hocking.edu)

Hocking College To Apply To Be Cannabis Research Institution

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Hocking College is looking to become the sole research institution in Ohio for medical cannabis.

Young announced the institution’s intention to apply to be a facility where medical cannabis can be tested.

The announcement comes as the state seeks to fulfill the legislative mandate of House Bill 523, which requires an institute of higher education to serve as the lab testing site.

The college will also be creating new majors, including cannabis technology, which Hocking President Betty Young said makes them “the first in the country meeting this growing industry workforce demand.”

“We recognize that this is a bold leadership decision, and one we do not take lightly,” Young said. “With months of exploration, we are proud to lead the way as Ohio’s institute of higher education, willing and able to commit to being Ohio’s center for research and development of this new industry.”

Majors in the laboratory science curriculum will also include cannabis lab technology, medical laboratory technician, forensics and chemical laboratory science.

The college chose Dr. Jonathan Cachat to lead the development of the curriculum. He holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychopharmacology, according to Young.

Cachat said it was while he was studying at universities in California that he took on the topic of the cannabis industry.

He said in moving back to his native Ohio, Cachat noticed a critical part missing from efforts to implement cannabis regulation: higher education facilities in which to study and test cannabis.

“So we started knocking on doors and making phone calls,” Cachat said. “Of all of those doors we were knocking on, Hocking College was the only one to answer.”

Cachat, who is listed as an advisor for the Cleveland Cannabis College, president and CEO of Fleurish Farms and head of a company devoted to “indoor agricultural facilities,” touched on the politics of the cannabis industry during the announcement.  He said bureaucracy and misconceptions have led to negative opinions of cannabis.

“Cannabis is a plant, marijuana is a made-up term crafted to stigmatize the plant and the people who use it,” Cachat said.

But he and Young said they put politics aside in favor in implementation of the state mandate and the introduction of new fields of study and new job opportunities.

“Hocking College has facilities, we have Dr. Cachat, and we meet the state requirement for an institution of higher education to serve in this regulatory capacity,” Young said.

Hocking College is planning to create an endowment to provide the funds for the laboratory equipment, renovation and initial operations. Young said they are looking for public and private financial support for the project.

“We anticipate bringing $5 million in investment and 12 new jobs to this region with the start of the operation of this lab,” Young said.

Young would not comment on the potential site for the laboratory work, but said the program would not be held at the Nelsonville campus.

She also said the application process is anticipated to take 90 days, but a timeline for development of the program has not been completed.
The college plans to start teaching the curriculum in Fall 2018.