Polina Saran and Isabel Guzman

October 17, 2022

Food and Hospitality

VIDEO: Students get a taste of the cannabis industry

Professor of CBD cooking course teaches much more than recipes.

Polina Saran and Isabel Guzman

October 17, 2022

They call Colorado “The Silicon Valley of the cannabis industry,” says Shannon Donnelly, affiliate professor of cannabis in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s School of Hospitality, because the whole world has its eyes on Colorado to see what’s next.

In her class on cooking with CBD, Cannabis 101, Donnelly first ensures that her students know the basics of CBD infusion. But the course doesn’t stop there. Donnelly also wanted to make sure students have a grasp on how their cannabis studies can translate to careers in the industry.

“In my experience, cooking with cannabis can be so fundamental and can create multiple different ways that someone can work in the industry,” she said. “(They can) work at a manufacturing facility and actually make the product. (They can) work inside of a hospitality establishment and throw different events that are centered on cannabis, or (they can) work in research and development and make new products.”

Donnelly begins the course by breaking down the difference between CBD and THC, explaining that cannabidiol (CBD) is nonpsychoactive, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive or mind-altering substance in cannabis. Once the CBD has been isolated, it can be combined with oils such as vegetable oil and used to make drinks, sauces, cookies and more.

After students have an understanding of the cooking fundamentals, they move on to dosing and regulations.

“They’ll end the semester really understanding dosing and the math around the calculations. … And then, obviously, because we’re a cooking class, we make sure everything is federally compliant and tested so we know what we’re using in class is safe and we know what the milligram amount of it is.”

RELATED: As edibles biz booms, Hospitality School brings cannabis into the kitchen

An alumna of MSU Denver, Donnelly remembers thinking about how much she would enjoy teaching a cannabis class on campus. With Colorado’s vote to legalize recreational use of cannabis in 2012, the industry has progressed to the point where that dream has finally become a reality.

Colorado is working through some of the compliance pieces that are being implemented nationally and internationally, she said. “Canada and Mexico are looking at our markets, which is why it’s so amazing for our students to be learning about cannabis,” Donnelly said.


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