Infrequent marijuana user, Deron Caplan earned his Ph.D. in Cannabis Production at the University of Guelph becoming a Marijuana Professor. Deron Caplan attended the University of Guelph in the Department of Environmental Sciences. His research, over the past three years, targeted the optimization of horticultural methods for cannabis production, focusing on irrigation, growing substrates, fertilization, and propagation.
It is expected that there will be more students aspiring to become a marijuana professor soon, as Canada embarks on its recreational legalization in October.
Caplan believes that he has received his doctorate at the right time and will be propelling himself into the marijuana business market.
Anja Geitmann, Dean of agriculture at Montreal’s McGill University, believes this will take change marijuana research.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to change the research landscape in the sense that researchers now have access or can-do research on the plant much easier.”
At this time, there is limited information on the cannabis plant, however, with legalization on the horizon, she believes that more access to the plant will be granted, and research will make Canada a world leader in this industry.
Caplan explained that marijuana is a big part of people’s lives outside of the sciences.
“There is a need for the science and there is a market and there are people that are growing it and they are going to have to grow it safely and make money and they can’t just make it all up themselves.”
Caplan’s was drawn to cannabis science after taking horticultural courses during his time as an undergraduate in environmental sciences at Guelph.
He explains that he has always been interested in economics and business. Caplan was compelled to be involved with an exciting, fast-growing industry and unfortunately, there’s not yet much that qualifies in terms of the plant’s horticultural science.
With medical marijuana already legal in Canada, and recreational cannabis scheduled to be legalized next month, becoming a marijuana professor was now an option.
“They offered a number of plant courses and I took some on a whim and fell in love with it. I was trying to graduate to be done by the time legalization was happening so I kind of had my head on the ground, not looking for work.”
“But I had a number of companies contact me, some with some very serious interest in having me on to continue to do research with them or to help them improve their production practices.”
After completing his undergraduate degree, Caplan approached horticulture Professor Youbin Zheng to begin his master’s study of the plant.
Caplan was informed that there were no openings in the program, so Caplan decided to travel.
“And then Youbin messaged me that he had a project and so I came back and started the research.”
Caplan was able to begin the master’s program in May 2015 and was able to combine his doctoral studies in July 2016.
The basic horticultural elements of cannabis production were the main focus of Caplan’s Ph.D. thesis, focusing on methods that had been largely ad-libbed in the prohibition era.
“Any crop you’re producing you have to know how much to fertilize it, how much to irrigate it, what to grow it in. There’s not academic research on the topic, there’s very little guidance for growers and growers are forced to rely on (often) unreliable information,”
So far, Caplan’s work has produced an academic body of advice, on things like optimal fertilizer rates and growing mediums that may be used by large licensed producers.
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