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Cannabis Science 101 Coming Soon to a University Near You

Written by Heather Ritchie

As more global cannabis bans that were sanctioned decades ago are lifted, universities are creating everything from professorships in cannabis science to four-year degrees and research programs. Some of these institutions are focusing on specific applications like using cannabinoids as substitutes to opioids while others are adding degree options like medicinal plant chemistry.

Cannabis Education in Canada

Canada’s Senate passed a bill earlier this year lifting the prohibition of cannabis that was enacted in 1923. Prime Minister Justine Trudeau advised that it goes into effect October 17, 2018.

Fiona Clement, a health policy researcher with the University of Calgary, described it as “the largest cultural change in my lifetime.” Many people feel the same way as cannabis is rapidly becoming the next revolution.The University of Brunswick and St. Thomas University revealed the creation of a research cluster that plans to focus on the social and biomedical facets of cannabis.

As each college searches for project leads, research funding is set up for the next five years with $500,000 provided by The New Brunswick Health Research Foundation for each chairperson. Private partnerships are providing matching funds.

The University of British Columbia partnered with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Canopy Growth Corp., and British Columbia’s Ministry of Mental Health to create a two-year professorship of cannabis science. This position will investigate the possibility of using cannabinoids as an alternative treatment for opioids and opioid addiction.

Dr. Evan Wood, Director of the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and a professor with the university noted that cannabis’s medicinal properties have hardly been researched because of the plant’s illegal status.

Class Offerings in the United States

Even some United States universities are offering cannabis-related classes and degrees. Northern Michigan University has a medicinal plant chemistry degree that consists of courses in soils, biochemistry, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, accounting, genetics, financial management, societal aspects, and organic chemistry. This program is the only one of its kind because of its comprehensive class list.

Universities like Vanderbilt, Ohio State, and Harvard may not offer cannabis degree programs yet, but students can take various classes about cannabis law and policy. People can earn cannabis certificates in a variety of specialties at the Sativa Science Club, Humboldt Cannabis College, THC University, the Grow School and Clover Leaf University, Cannabis College, and Oaksterdam University.

With an increasingly educated cannabis community, the thirst for knowledge reigns supreme. Educators have begun embracing the chance to teach others of the mysteries behind this ancient medicine.

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Heather Ritchie

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