Cannabis researcher Deron Caplan has just received his PhD in Horticulture from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. And while it's not a degree in 'Cannabis Studies' per se, Caplan wrote his doctoral thesis on the plant, making him likely the first person to do so in Canada and possibly even in North America. Caplan says that he isn't much of a cannabis consumer but has long recognized the plant's medicinal and commercial potential.
"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 told The Star.
Caplan certainly isn't the first to publish research on the plant—his own doctoral supervisor Youbin Zheng has done plenty of research on the subject—but the field is still relatively young and presents many possible avenues for new discoveries.
"It's interesting and new and the fact that there is [little] research in the area [meant] I could have free rein of what I wanted to do," he added. "Being able to get into the forefront of a ... scientific topic these days, doesn't seem like even an option, it's kind of just built upon the work of others."
So where do you start when you have so many options to choose from? At the beginning it would seem. Caplan's research focused on the most fundamental aspects of cannabis cultivation. Information he says has long been informally passed along between growers but has never been scientifically evaluated.
"[With] any crop you're producing, you have to know how much to fertilize it, how much to irrigate it, what to grow it in," he explained. "And because 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."
Caplan may be the first cannabis PhD around, but as regulations continue to relax around the world he certainly won't be the last.