The new Cannabis & Hemp Research Institute (CHRIS) at Stockton University seeks to provide education, research, and resources for the local and national cannabis and hemp markets.
The new institute builds on the Cannabis Studies academic program at Stockton to develop research focusing on hemp cultivation practices, non-medical cannabis research, lab testing, and the creation of hemp and cannabis educational materials.
“As the first university in New Jersey to offer a Cannabis Studies minor in 2019, Stockton is poised to do important research into areas that can provide opportunities for our students and emerging industries and enhance the economy of the state,” said Professor of Biology Ekaterina Sedia, coordinator of the Cannabis Studies minor.
Robert Mejia, an adjunct professor of Cannabis Studies at Stockton, said the institute would host educational and career fairs. While it’s an expansion of the Cannabis Studies program, it will not offer a bachelor’s degree.
Academic Hemp Research
Initially, the CHRIS testing lab’s focal point will be to provide testing services to hemp growers, processors, and finished product manufacturers. Although New Jersey was the third state to institute hemp cultivation guidelines, the state’s hemp industry is nascent.
“Hemp was an important part of America’s past, and we’d like to make it an important part of America’s future,” Mejia said. “We used to know how to grow and process hemp, but because of cannabis prohibition, we have to learn all over again. As we learn, we will be sharing these valuable lessons with our community and the nation.”
He argued that opportunities to create environmentally friendly hemp products, building materials, and food to replace and ethanol and plastic would lead to a more sustainable future.
In addition to hemp testing, CHRIS plans to grow hemp in Stockton fields and greenhouse and host educational events. They also would like to work with community partners to provide education, training, and employment opportunities for the post-prison population.
“We see this as a way to engage with our local community and to help those harmed by the war on drugs,” Mejia said.
The institute will be run largely by Sedia along with Mejia. Other professors will research along with undergrad and grad students.
The new institute’s first event will be a virtual Cannabis Curriculum Convening on April 21 and 22, which will bring together cannabis educators across the nation to exchange ideas, discuss strategies to enhance cannabis education in higher education, and network
“There is so much public confusion about cannabis and hemp, and the topic affects so many different areas,” Sedia said. “Through our research and education, we want to be a leader both in academia and in assisting businesses and local communities as the industry grows.”
The convening themes include cannabis curricula in science, cultivation, law, medicine, and social justice.
Stockton University will have to compete with Rowan University, which announced the establishment of a cannabis think tank shortly after the passage of adult-use legislation.
Cannabis science is growing with the creation and growth of a new academic journal, the American Journal of Endocannabinoid (ECS) Medicine. According to their website, they are “the first and only American medical authority to explore the ECS as a therapeutic target, AJEM seeks to educate medical professionals by providing high-quality, peer-reviewed research, expert commentary, as well as articles on cannabis-related news and policy issues.”