By Victoria Dondero / Digital Producer & Editor
The super plant with millions of benefits carries a heavy stigmatized name.
Dr. Carla Garzon uncovers the depth of specializations within the Horticulture Department here at Delaware Valley University.
Dr. Garzon is the head of the Cannabis program at DelVal. The Cannabis department falls under the Specialization category, meaning within majoring in Horticulture, or related major, students can choose a Specialization in Cannabis studies. This creates the most versatility for the job fields students are entering and ensures they know the ins and outs about all things plants.
Dr. Garzon explained how the major was only officially approved in the Spring of 2022, meaning the major was only available for students to declare as their major in Fall of 2022. The first cannabis classes available for student’s to take were available in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. There has not been enough time to see significant growth in the major due to the establishing date being so recent. Currently, students can declare a specialization in cannabis within the Horticulture Major.
Garzon works to eliminate the taboo connotation that cannabis typically carries and informs the public of all the various uses for every single part of the plant. The plant doesn’t just produce the well known drug Marijuana, but is full of medical benefits without the THC being included.
She works to minimize the negative or preconceived notions about the cannabis plant, as well as, and teaches essential skills and knowledge needed for students going into the different fields the program has to offer as well as artisanal skills like creating hemp soaps, chapsticks, and lotions. Hemp is a federally legal commodity; there are limitless options with the extreme diversity and varieties of Hemp that the Cannabis plant has to offer. None of these products contain cannabinoids, the chemical that creates the psychoactive effects of THC Marijuana.
Another focus is the medical benefits of the cannabis plant. In Pennsylvania, Marijuana is legal with a prescription from a qualifying Medical Doctor and obtaining Medical Marijuana card. In neighboring New Jersey, it is legal medically, and recreationally. Cannabis has many beneficial properties, and the relationship between cannabis and the medical world continues to grow. Continuously studies emerge showing the health benefits of cannabis, whether it’s looking for ways to ease the pain of cancer patients, to a lotion that can be used to ease chronic pain. Garzon spends time going over the laws and regulations of being in the Cannabis industry in extreme depth because the field requires strict compliance.
The stigma around cannabis is ongoing, but through teaching the students, it further informs the public of the other uses of Cannabis. Every single part of the plant is useable. Garzon detailed many examples. Parts of the plant include, “super food” hemp hearts, which has many nutritional and health benefits. Hemp hearts can be used in different recipes like cakes and salads, it offers a nutty texture and flavor to different dishes and has many other uses. The hemp seeds contain an oil that is cold pressed and extracted here on campus. It is similar to olive oil with how beneficial it can be. It can be used as salad dressing, hair and skin care products. (note: you cannot fry in hemp oil, as the burning temperature is much lower than other oils.)
Dr. Garzon and her students use the materials that they harvest and produce in her classes to create various products including chapstick, lotion, chocolate hemp lollipops and different forms of hemp for health food products. They focus on using the whole hemp plant to create natural products like chocolates, protein powders, and oils. A common misconception is that cannabis can only be used for its THC properties, but there are many uses of the plant that does not include the altering effects of THC.
The biggest takeaway was the incredible versatility of the fields and productions of cannabis plants, and this is not lack luster in the internships and jobs available to student’s interested in the field of work. With a Bachelor’s Degree of Science there are diverse opportunities available in the farming, agribusiness, natural medicine, chemistry, and even Veterinary medicine because of the multiple health benefits of Cannabis has to offer; the options are pretty limitless and there is always new information and studies providing vital knowledge.
For Dr. Garzon’s classes, she often has guest speakers from many different hemp and cannabis companies to offer knowledge to students. Garzon brings in lawyers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania to aid in her teaching of the the laws and regulations in the surrounding states.
Regardless of the field students go into, it is important to know the laws and regulation because any job in this field requires strict compliance.
The importance of the opportunities for hands-on learning in the labs, the real life information provided by representatives hosted by Dr. Garzon and the wealth of information she has to share with her students.
With any questions regarding the Cannabis program and classes feel free to contact Dr. Carla Garzon at firstname.lastname@example.org