GLASSBORO — Planning to offer certificates in various disciplines to both undergraduate and graduate students, Rowan University's new Institute for Cannabis Research, Policy, & Workforce Development aims to inform public health officials and create jobs under New Jersey's newly legalized recreational marijuana marketplace.

The timing of this launch was not at all coincidental, according to Dr. Anthony Lowman, Rowan provost and senior vice president of economic affairs.

Lowman said the greater Rowan region offers prime farmland for potential cannabis cultivation.

"We wanted to be ready when the state announced it, because this is a great opportunity, (and) South Jersey's in a great position," he said.

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The Institute has three defined areas of focus: the Center for Cannabinoid Science & Therapeutics, the Socio-Behavioral, Security & Law Enforcement Cannabis Center, and the Center for Cannabis Workforce Development.

Boiled down, those three centers together will work alongside marijuana vendors to gauge the effects of current policy on the emerging business, plus explore the science of the compounds found in cannabis, and the drug's impacts on behavior and neuroscience.

"There'll be aspects that touch across, let's say, psychology, neuroscience, and the medical schools. So this center was formed to bring different people with different expertise together," Lowman said of the interdisciplinary effort, which is not under the auspices of any particular school or department at the university. "We can help shape the workforce, help shape the future of the technology, help shape the future of health and policy, so we can be a big part of this."

One of the most important things the Institute wants to do is lay the foundation for the next generation of cannabis growers and policymakers.

Certificates are being offered right now in the field of chemistry of cannabinoids, Lowman said, and could soon be available in public policy.

"We view pipelines for students who want to incorporate this into their existing degrees, gain standalone credentials, incorporate certain aspects into a professional studies degree," Lowman said.

For graduate students, the emphasis on cannabis careers might be particularly impactful. Some, Lowman said, may feel compelled to leave behind a previous job to retrain for a career track in New Jersey's marijuana industry.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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