The first of five Western Illinois University students with a minor in Cannabis & Culture was part of the school’s spring 2021 graduating class. The interdisciplinary minor—so far, the only one in the nation—focuses on social justice issues related to cannabis use and the cannabis industry.
There are four other current students minoring in Cannabis & Culture.
Alison Coats said the minor taught her about the medical efficacy of cannabis and about the story of Charlotte Figi, the girl with Dravet Syndrome who became a leading figure in the CBD movement and the namesake of the ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain. Figi died last year amid the coronavirus pandemic from, what her family described as, COVID-like symptoms.
“She even changed the mind of Dr. Sanjay Gupta (from CNN) about the medical and moral obligations our society has to allow people to use cannabis to treat certain illnesses.”—Coats in a statement
The interdisciplinary minor is comprised of courses from anthropology, botany, history, liberal arts and sciences, philosophy, religious studies, English, and political science, WIU said in a press release. It includes such courses as Cannabis Culture, Religion & Drugs, Contemporary Moral Problems, History of Drugs, Introduction to Public Policy, and Ethno-botany, among others.
WIU Religious Studies and Liberal Arts and Sciences Professor and co-creator of the minor, Sarah Haynes, said the program “provides a solid foundation for understanding the socio-cultural, historical, and politics of cannabis use in the U.S. and around the world.”
An online version of the class will begin in the Fall and students who take the minor along with at least one religious class may be eligible for a $1,000 per semester Mary Olive Woods Scholarship.
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