Doane University plans to offer a three-course online program this fall for students who hope to enter the cannabis industry, which produces hemp and marijuana.

Andrea Holmes, a Doane chemistry professor who will help teach the certificate program, said the industry is growing rapidly. There are jobs across the country for cultivators, technicians, scientists, geneticists, administrators, salespeople, marketers and advertisers, Holmes said.

"I can tell you what — the train has left and people are already on it in Nebraska," she said in an interview.

Nebraska in May passed a hemp law in which cannabis with a THC level of less than .3% is legal. Hemp is sometimes called a "cousin" of marijuana. Hemp is used in clothing, cosmetics, medications and other items.

Many states, however, have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and some have legalized it for recreational purposes as well.

Doane announced Monday that it would offer the program. The private university based in Crete, Nebraska, intends to start it in October or November and to provide a "certificate" to those who complete it, Holmes said.

Holmes, a chemist who has a doctorate from New York University, said she will be responsible for certifying the those who complete the program. They will use the certification to to show that they have taken the course and to land jobs in the industry. Holmes has been a professor at Doane since 2005.

She said she is one of four founders of a Denver-based company that extracts oil from hemp and refines it to a substance that doesn't contain THC, the psychotropic component.

Her company, Precision Plant Molecules, then provides the extract to companies that make tablets, lotions and other items for consumers. Those products are used for pain management and other therapeutic purposes for people and animals.  

Holmes said hers will be a rare, comprehensive program that covers the genetic components of cannabis and the harvesting, processing and refining of it. It will also cover applications of cannabis, its economic impact and regulations controlling cannabis.

rick.ruggles@owh.com, 402-444-1123