Industrial hemp expert Anndrea Hermann gave Oregon State University faculty members and students a sneak peek Tuesday at a class she’ll offer through OSU’s Ecampus about the benefits of uses of the plant.
The preview came in the form of a seminar titled “Industrial Hemp Today, Where We Are, Where We’re Going,” and it offered context for the online class, which will be offered this spring through the College of Forestry. It will focus on the botany and biology of hemp, as well as the implications of legal and social issues surrounding its use.
Hermann, who will instruct the industrial hemp course, is the president of the Hemp Industries Association and owns The Ridge International Cannabis Consulting.
Hermann, who lives in Canada, said she was excited that OSU decided to incorporate industrial hemp into its curriculum and recognize its significance.
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“This is the first time in world history that we know of that a four-credit class solely based on industrial hemp is being offered,” she said. “It’s a cool thing for the university to put it out there.”
Hemp generally refers to varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa that are relatively low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the active ingredient in marijuana. Of the roughly 2,000 varieties of Cannabis plants known, about 90 percent contain only low levels of THC and are most useful for their fiber, seeds and medicinal or psychoactive oils. Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known.
Hermann introduced faculty members and students from the college to the basic premise of the course — and to the wide array of uses for hemp, which include use in various food products.
“I always say if it’s good food, hemp is good in it, on it or with it,” she said.
Hermann also expanded on the history and economy of the plant.
In the United States, she said, 11 states have legalized the cultivation of hemp, including Oregon.
“It’s important for us to be creating professionals,” she said. “People who have passion for hemp, they can incorporate it into their career.”
Department of Wood Science and Engineering professors John Simonsen and David Smith collaborated in the creation of the curriculum for the course. Simonsen and Smith said Hermann’s experience in the field made her a good choice to run the online class.
“It will be the kind of thing that will attract attention,” Smith said. “There are always a little bit of giggles, but people will recognize it has a very long history.”
He said the course is one of several within the department to highlight an evolving industry.
He listed as other examples courses about bioenergy and green building technology that recognize the need to contribute to a sustainable economy.
Hermann said she plans to have 26 guest lecturers for the hemp class, including researchers and professionals from Belgium, South Africa and Uruguay.
“I want to make sure I’m featuring people who are actually out there doing research,” she said. “We want the class to be rounded-out and not just my message.”
Joce DeWitt is the Higher Education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached at 541-758-9510 of email@example.com.