ISU students create cannabis club to network and destigmatize industry

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 10:08 PM CST
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NORMAL (25 News Now) - There’s a new group at Illinois State University where students are trying to break barriers to enter the cannabis industry with a new club.

When ISU student Jackie Heim realized there are no courses offered about cannabis, she decided to learn on her own.

“We don’t have the resources that we would like as students in a university, so we’re out here trying to make some of these connections ourselves,” said Heim.

Heim is working toward a career in cannabis. She’s now the founder and president of the registered student organization, Cannabis Club Redbirds.

She’s turned to a degree in agriculture business, which for her, is aimed at a career in cannabis.

She’s now bringing experienced people to Normal for insight into cultivation centers, dispensaries and the law.

“We want to make sure that the people who are a part of the club, are getting out there. They’re prepared, they’ve met those connections, they have an idea of what this industry entails, and they can be the best and the brightest,” said Heim.

The club was created in December and has 23 members and two advisors meeting twice a month. However, they’re running into a roadblock on financing.

“We had been denied getting a bank account due to the word cannabis in our name, even though we do not take funds from anywhere in the industry,” said Heim.

Heim hopes to be able to fundraise to send members to conventions or other industry events. She wants to be recognized as a professional club, and not a group sitting around to get high.

“We want to break that stigma. We’re here to be productive in this industry,” said Heim.

Vice President Grant Winkler wishes this club was around his freshman year, as he’s switched majors from cyber security to ag business.

“I want to own my own cannabis cultivation company that’s vertically integrated. So, everything from edibles, to tinctures, to just bud itself, production across the line,” said Winkler.

At this point, an ISU spokesperson said the school does not offer cannabis courses. Heartland Community College will be offering a certification program in cannabis next year.