Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey continues to be a rising star in the collegiate space. Thanks to the leadership of Jennifer Maden (Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Studies – Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University) and students like Ryan Ems, Rowan University has embraced the growing cannabis industry in full swing.
With the launch of its recent Graduate Cannabis Program and active student advocacy clubs, Rowan University will be a shining beacon for cannabis in South Jersey.
At Neonjoint we fully embrace when barriers are broken and new minds open up to the potential of plant medicine. Here’s what’s happening at Rowan University.
The Current Status of Cannabis in New Jersey
New Jersey has legalized adult-use cannabis, contributing to the growing number of states embracing this policy change. The state has seen a significant increase in revenue from taxes on cannabis purchases, with a 67% growth in the third quarter of 2022 alone.
This surge in revenue highlights the demand for cannabis products and services, emphasizing the need for trained professionals and experts in the field. Rowan University’s Institute for Cannabis Research, Policy, and Workforce Development plays a crucial role in preparing students to enter the rapidly growing industry, ensuring that the state’s cannabis market continues to develop responsibly and sustainably.
Rowan University’s Institute for Cannabis Research, Policy, and Workforce Development
Rowan University’s Institute for Cannabis Research, Policy, and Workforce Development aims to educate students and prepare them for professional roles in the growing cannabis industry. The institute is currently divided into three centers, offering undergraduate and graduate programs in cannabis studies.
Center for Cannabinoid Science & Therapeutics: Focuses on the chemistry and medical aspects of marijuana.
Center for Cannabis Workforce Development: Supports the growing need for cannabis professionals through networking and outreach programs.
Social-Behavioral, Security, and Law Enforcement Cannabis Center: Develop ideas to assist government or public safety officials in drafting new policies.
Rowan’s Institute for Cannabis Research, Policy, and Workforce Development is making a positive impact on the industry, as evidenced by the increased revenue from taxes on cannabis purchases in New Jersey. The institute’s efforts contribute to the growing need for cannabis researchers, professionals, and experts in the rapidly expanding industry.
Meet Ryan Ems
The following is a submitted piece from current Rowan Student Ryan Ems and his journey to embracing cannabis to launch his professional career and new club at Rowan University.
The first time I got high was the summer going into my freshman year of college. Lots of exciting things were going on in my life, but nothing as exciting as this. My entire life I had been against marijuana. I hated the stuff.
But like most people, I didn’t have a real reason why. I thought the people around me who smoked were going down a bad path in life. I thought weed was for bad people, who did bad things. Terrible. Illegal. Scary things. Turns out, I was a little off.
My first dabble into cannabis was an amazing experience. Partly because of the THC coursing through my bloodstream, but also partly from the rush of doing something that I had been against doing my entire life.
Is Weed a Winner?
I asked myself a very simple question: “If weed was legal, would I use it more?” The answer was a resounding yes. I realized at that moment that I had been fooled by the narrative I formed growing up. I had decided something I had not researched nor experienced myself firsthand. With my mind starting to expand, I headed to college.
My first semester of freshman year was rough. I had no motivation, and quite frankly, no desire to live. There was nothing I believed that was worth getting up every day and doing. I had no fire. No spark.
At the time, I was neither drinking nor smoking to focus on my mental health. I did not have much experience with those substances at the time, so I did not want to make my situation worse.
Keep in mind, I was still pretty against weed, but I decided that if I somehow miraculously made it to the end of the semester, I would let myself smoke as much weed as I wanted. I honestly did not know if I would see the day I made it to summer, so given my bleak outlook, promising myself a little weed didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.
That spring, Covid hit, and all hell broke loose. I was sent home early, so in my mind it was summer! I applied for my NJ MMJ Card and began using cannabis regularly. It helped me more than I expected.
I was more creative. I was less stressed. I slept better. I was more present. It allowed me to become more optimistic in a world that is anything but.
In my later years of college, I began reading Alan Watts, a very prominent philosopher from the previous century.
Watts writes, “You go to kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, ‘Come on’ first grade leads to second grade, and so on. And then you get out of grade school, and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.
Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for.
Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, ‘My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.’ And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.”
Have you ever felt that?
I fear that feeling. That fear that you are never really going to take the chance and do the thing you are meant to do. What is the one thing you could do day in a day out that would let you squeeze every last drop of life from this world? When I thought about it, and believe me, I thought long and hard about my future, there was only one thing I could imagine doing with my life. And that was pursuing cannabis.
A New Journey Begins
I transferred to Rowan for more opportunities and began coordinating with Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, Jennifer Maden, who is spearheading Rowan’s Institute for Cannabis, Research, Policy, And Development.
Currently at Rowan, I am looking to organize a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) which works very closely with another organization called Student Marijuana Alliance for Research and Transparency (SMART).
SSDP is an international nonprofit advocacy and education organization with a focus on drug policy, the war on drugs, marijuana legalization, psychedelics, juvenile justice, youth rights, drug decriminalization, and criminal justice reform. SMART, which is more geared toward cannabis, aims to inspire the next generation to look beyond the marijuana stigma through education, research, and professional Development.
A Club by and for the Community
The main goal of SSDP at Rowan will be to combat the Opioid Crisis in South Jersey along with taking a hard look into the NCAA policies governing Rowan Athletics. The goal of SMART will be to promote educational and professional experiences for Rowan students to explore their passion for cannabis.
Whether its entrepreneurs looking for help launching their businesses, or medical students interested in cannabis research, Rowan will be a hub for all things cannabis.
I was inspired to start this club at Rowan because I do not see many educational opportunities being provided to Rowan students and this will ultimately impact what career they choose. I do not want someone to be discouraged about a career in cannabis simply because there are no direct educational routes at this time. I want to create a direct pipeline for Rowan students to get into the industry and make a splash.
Life is short and I want to help people find the courage to explore what they are truly passionate about. There are so many different disciplines that have positive interactions with the plant that would benefit from this community being established. My cannabis journey is far from over, but I hope you can join me along for the ride.