All course information is listed within this syllabus.

PLANT 240: Fundamentals of Cannabis: An Introduction to the Botany, Cultivation, and Harvesting of Hemp (3 credits). Hemp is any Cannabis species that expresses THC at less than 0.3% This course provides a broad overview of hemp's natural ecosystem, biology, domestication, phenotypic plasticity, industrial cultivation, and business models within the hemp industry that foster bioeconomic empowerment for growers. The course starts with the basic biology of Cannabis species, the effects of light on the production of cannabinoids, the various uses in the economic fabric of industrialized nations, and concludes with what makes hemp a unique plant for industrial production. Despite the legalization of hemp, optimal conditions for indoor and outdoor cultivation of cannabis remain not well understood. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to basic principles, best horticultural practices, and specific concepts for getting started in industrial hemp production. Throughout this course, potential business opportunities are emphasized for various aspects of the hemp industry.


Instructor for PLANT 240.

Maria de Lima Brossi, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar and Lab Manager

Department of Plant Science
249 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone (Office): 814-495-9359
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Bio and Research Interests

My name is Maria Brossi, and I will be your instructor for PLANT 240. Here is brief background information about me. I was born in Brazil and obtained an undergraduate degree in environmental technology. After that, I earned my Ph.D. in Applied Biology in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. I have also worked as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) in the fields of microbiology and biotechnology. Currently, I work in the Department of Plant Sciences at Penn State. My work involves research on plant physiology as well as graduate student mentoring and teaching. I wish us all a successful and productive semester. Please, do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I will be available to assist with your needs through Canvas and will reply to you in 48 hours maximum (weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Course Overview

This course provides a comprehensive overview for outdoor, indoor, and hydroponic hemp production for rapid integration into the hemp industry. It fosters students' economic empowerment by stressing the needed quick-start horticultural skills for production, expansion, and business opportunities from seed to harvest and vertical integration. The course starts with understanding federal and state laws, drug enforcement agency (DEA) rules, and best hemp production practices needed for launching hemp production. Students will learn thought-provoking concepts that cut across basic biology, biochemistry, and agronomy and stressing on business opportunities in the hemp industry.

Why should you care about hemp? Hemp delivers medicines, construction materials, automobile parts, animal and human food, textile and papers, high tensile nanomaterials, essential oil, body care products, mattresses, and fuel. In this course, you will combine your knowledge of sciences and plant biology to bridge the grand challenges involve in hemp production. How will this course help you succeed? Grand challenges are fundamental questions in the production of hemp and with broad applications in the bioeconomy.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify key elements of federal laws, 2021-USDA Final Rule, state laws, and drug enforcement agency (DEA) rules that govern hemp production and utilization best practices.
  2. Discern the differences among hemp genotypes and indigenous landraces.
  3. Describe the economic importance of common hemp genotypes and indigenous landraces.
  4. Describe the various hemp production systems and related drawbacks involved with the cultivation of Cannabis sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis dominant genotypes.
  5. Explain abiotic and biotic factors that influence hemp growth patterns and phytochemical content in their ecological niche.
  6. Employ basic hemp growing practices including scientific principles of how to grow hemp, monitor its health, and collect qualitative and quantitative data for forecasting yield.
  7. Assess market opportunities in the hemp industry including consideration of industrial hemp propagation and production.
  8. Investigate areas of interest where hemp grows and identify post-harvest management principles.
  9. Demonstrate skills and conceptual knowledge in the areas of growing, quantitative analysis, and research communication.

Course Outline

Module 1: Introduction

Module 2: Bioeconomics of Hemp

Module 3: Hemp Propagation

Module 4: Outdoor Cultivation of Hemp

Module 5: Optimization of Outdoor Production

Module 6: Water, Irrigation, and pH Management

Module 7: Nutrient Management

Module 8: Indoor Hydroponics System

Module 9: Indoor Soil-Based System

Module 10: Integrated Pest Management

Module 11: Postharvest Management of Hemp Flowers

Module 12: Harvest and Postharvest Management of Fibers and Seeds

Module 13: Introduction to Cannabis Breeding

Module 14: Introduction to Feminized Seed Production

Module 15: The Future of Hemp Production

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Most World Campus courses require that students purchase materials (e.g., textbooks, specific software, etc.). To learn about how to order materials, please see the Course Materials page. You should check the World Campus Course Catalog approximately 3–4 weeks before the course begins for a list of required materials.


ISBN: 978-1845937928
Bouloc, P., Allegret, S., & Arnaud, L. (Eds.). (2013). Hemp: Industrial Production and Uses (Illustrated ed.). CABI. (E-Book option available)

Note: This textbook provides expanded and supplemental materials for the course topics on Outdoor Cultivation, Outdoor Production, and Post-Harvest Management. 

You may purchase course materials from Barnes & Noble College (the bookstore used by Penn State's World Campus). For pricing and ordering information, please see the Barnes & Noble College website. Materials will be available at Barnes & Noble College approximately three weeks before the course begins. Alternatively, you may obtain these texts from other favorite bookstores. Be sure you purchase the edition/publication date listed.

E-Book Option

An online version of one or more of your texts is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. You can access the E-Book by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, and then selecting the E-Reserves link. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help (UL-RESERVESHELP@LISTS.PSU.EDU).


This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. You can access these materials by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, or by accessing the Library E-Reserves Search and searching for your instructor's last name.


There are 2 timed exams in this course. Exam I covers information from Modules 1 to 6. Exam II covers information from Modules 7 to 14. Self-paced quizzes at the end of each module of the course are also graded and will help you to test your knowledge and prepare for higher stakes assignments.

In addition, there are cumulative discussion and research writing assignments:

  • Discussions: Discussion assignments encourage you to reflect on course topics and relate them to your own experiences and research outside of class. Periodically, you will be asked to post thought-provoking questions to the class, and then reply to questions asked by your classmates. Discussion assignments count towards your overall class participation grade.
  • Data Analysis Report: This activity will require you to examine the research findings of a hemp field experiment testing different treatments (fertilization regimes). You are required to analyze the provided data set and report on your analysis. This activity will help you to develop your science critical thinking and data analysis skills.
  • Hemp Business Plan: Throughout the course, you will develop a partial business plan for a hemp production enterprise. You will complete this assignment through the semester using resources provided in this class as well as any outside research materials that are relevant to your plans. You will complete all work on this assignment individually with the opportunity to provide and receive feedback from classmates.

Class participation points are awarded throughout the semester for participation in graded and ungraded class discussion forums as well as attending office hours. Participation is worth 10% of the overall course grade. Please see Canvas for additional details. 

Note: No late submissions will be accepted. If you are ill or otherwise unable to turn in your work by the deadline in Canvas, it is your responsibility to discuss alternative due dates with the instructor.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Discussions (x4) 50 20%
Quizzes (x15) 301 10%
Exam I 42 15%
Exam II 56 25%
Data Analysis Report 100 20%
Hemp Business Plan (2 parts) 200 10%
TOTAL: 749 100%

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Support Services

As a student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the following resources for more information:

Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures, and the Code of Conduct).

Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias page.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their Web Privacy Statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD40, Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services, addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under federal and state laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The University offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Accommodations for Persons With Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search to start planning ahead.