Cannabinoid Chemistry Partnership with Groff NA Offers First-of-its-Kind Opportunity
A collaboration with Groff North America will set York College of Pennsylvania’s Cannabinoid Chemistry major apart from any other college program in the United States.
York College of Pennsylvania has entered a first-of-its-kind partnership in the United States with a local research company that will benefit the College’s Cannabinoid Chemistry major, which is now enrolling students for the Fall 2022 semester.
For two years, the York College Chemistry Department team, including Professors Kyle Howard, Jessica Fautch, and Gregory Foy, has been working toward the approval of the Cannabinoid Chemistry major. At the same time, Groff North America of Red Lion, Pennsylvania, was in the process of gaining licensure as a federally approved marijuana research facility.
While only 10 miles apart, the College and the business did not realize their similar paths until recently. In a chance conversation, Groff NA founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Groff and Professor Foy, who are longtime friends, discovered what the other was up to. A partnership was born.
Bringing cutting-edge scientific research to York College
Groff NA is one of only five companies in the U.S. federally licensed to work with marijuana and the only company in the country with a complete suite of six federal licenses: to grow, to research and develop; to have a schedule 1 analytical lab; to extract bulk Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs); to put these ingredients into patient dose form; and to import and export cannabis products. This distinction makes Groff NA the ideal partner for York College’s new Cannabinoid Chemistry major.
“This brings a cutting-edge company that is really forward thinking into our Chemistry Department Industry Advisory Council (CIAC),” says Professor Foy. “This also provides significant opportunities for our students and our faculty. As chemists, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, but not as much scientific as far as how cannabis affects people. That’s a wide-open field for research and development.”
Details are being ironed out as to what the partnership will look like, but York College anticipates gaining opportunities for student internships at Groff NA as well as research.
“For an intern, each one of the processes has interesting sides behind it,” says Groff NA CEO Joe Gryzb. “Starting with growth and cultivation of the plant to the extraction piece and further refining, distillation, and isolating the THC or CBD, this is real-world manufacturing.”
“The College is very dedicated to experiential learning,” says Professor Fautch. “This opportunity to partner with a local company is an extremely authentic experience. Students are getting that experience while they’re still here. We’re going to get that gold reputation for producing the very best professionals in this field.”
Gold standard chemists
One of the cannabis industry’s biggest struggles has been finding qualified chemists. “There is a real need to have scientists trained in this area,” Professor Fautch says.
Dr. Groff has experienced this firsthand.
“This is a great opportunity to get involved in a rapidly expanding scientific field,” he says. “The American public wants access to this type of therapy. It’s already available in 38 states, but the federal government has done very little to study it. We want the science and data to catch up.”
In the process of building the Cannabinoid Chemistry major and forming the partnership with Groff NA, one of the Chemistry Department faculty’s major hurdles has been dealing with the misperceptions around the study of cannabis.
“This is first and foremost educational,” Professor Foy says. “We are designing the major in a way to abide by all the laws of Pennsylvania and the federal government. We’re scientists. This is a drug, and one that’s being used extensively in our country, becoming more and more legal. We as scientists are concerned that we don’t know enough about it.”
The team at Groff NA agrees.
“This is not weed for recreation,” Gryzb says. “This is serious science for serious medical outcomes. York College students will have an opportunity to participate in a medical field that will be shaping medicine for years to come.”
Professors Foy and Fautch are excited for the opportunities the major will bring not only to York College students but to the general public.
“The research is going to help people,” Professor Foy says. “Part of what we intend to do is educate and demystify what it can and can’t be used for.”
Students who major in Cannabinoid Chemistry will be trained and qualified to work in any chemistry field.
“This is going to be a degree that educates students in a way that they’re going to be prepared as chemists,” Professor Foy says. “Their specialty will be in cannabinoid chemistry, but they’ll be fully prepared as chemists who can go into any field. In our programs, you don’t get pigeonholed.”