Cannabis Education Hits the Ivy League (And Elsewhere)

It was only a matter of time before the Ivy League entered the cannabis education business.  Unlike some lesser institutions that have made  long term commitments to cannabis education, the Harvard Business School is testing the waters by offering a one-time only cannabis class. The master class will be taught by  California-based cannabis entrepreneur Adrian Sedlin (a Harvard Business School alum), and will include everything from measuring plant THC levels to how to build a scalable profitable business in an industry at a time of regulatory uncertainty.

For those of you looking for a lesser known but degree-bearing program, check out the  Institute of Cannabis Research a joint effort between the University of Colorado-Pueblo, the State of Colorado and Pueblo County, CO. According to the institute, the program was the nation’s first multi-disciplinary cannabis research center at a “regional, comprehensive institution.” The CSU Pueblo program has an in-state price tag of around $24,185 and roughly $38,767 for out-of-state students.

Another option is the Northern Michigan University (NMU) medicinal plant chemistry program which began this past Fall. According to the university,  the program (which has 12 current enrollees) is designed to give students a more “traditional four-year-secondary-education” approach to cannabis education.  In state tuition at NMU is $22,156 and out of state costs are $27,652.

A recent report indicated that almost 150,000 Americans are employed in the legal cannabis industry. As the industry continues to expand both medically and recreationally, the need for educated and well trained prospective employees will also continue to grow (pun intended).  If you are thinking about an upwardly mobile, long term, financially-satisfying career, it may be worth a shot to go to  (or go back to) college and learn  everything you can about cannabis, its products and its use!

O Canada-Part Deux

Those zany Canadians are at it again!  Yesterday, the Canadian government announced that it will invest almost $47 million (Canadian) over the next five years in a cannabis education and awareness campaign.

According to a press release,  the campaign will include “factual and evidence-based information on the health and safety risks of cannabis use and drug-impaired driving. The campaign will build on ongoing social media efforts, advertising and interactive events to engage youth on the facts.”

The goal of the campaign is to provide Canadians, especially young adults and youth, with clear factual information so that they understand how cannabis could affect them.  A critical part of the initiative is to equip parents and teachers with factual evidence-based scientific information so that they can have meaningful discussions with young Canadians about the risks of cannabis use, especially drug-impaired driving.  To that end, this fall, Public Safety Canada will launch an initiative to inform citizens about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

Because medical cannabis is legal nationwide  in Canada (and recreational use is soon to follow)  making an investment in cannabis education and awareness makes sense.  An informed and educated public ought to reduce some of the anxiety and possible dangers associated with cannabis use.

Perhaps, the US ought to follow Canada’s lead and make similar investments to educate the American public about medical and recreational cannabis use. At present, the amount of misinformation far outweighs the facts. This is extremely troubling since tens of millions of Americans are currently regular cannabis users.

 

Several Major Universities To Offer Cannabis Courses and Even Grow Some on the Side!

In a previous blog post I wrote that several community colleges and lesser know universities were offering summer and/or continuing education classes about cannabis.  While these course offerings were impressive, most were community-based and specifically designed to support local cannabis growers and the emerging cannabis business in these locales.

More recently, however, several major universities including Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of Vermont and the University of California-Davis announced that they will offer courses designed to provide students and healthcare professionals with an understanding of the physiology, medical and legal implications of cannabis use.

And, quite surprisingly, Louisiana State University has entered into a private agreement with a Las Vegas-based biopharmaceutical pharmaceutical company GB Sciences to cultivate and supply cannabis for disease indications that the company plans to treat including chronic pain, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. While LSU entered into this agreement, it is not clear whether or not it relationship with GB Sciences may affect its sources of federal funding because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Nevertheless, it is becoming abundantly clear that academia sees an opportunity to get into the cannabis business one way or the other. Below is a sampling of the cannabis courses and seminars that are currently being offered.

The University of Vermont offers a medical marijuana and cannabis certification course for clinicians who want the latest information regarding medical cannabis and possible healthcare applications of the plant.

The Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University offers a seminar style course on the legalization of cannabis that will examine the social and historical backdrop of intoxicant prohibition, and assess the legal reforms and political debates now having an impact on the control and regulation of marijuana distribution and use.

The University of Washington offers a course for healthcare professionals on the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.

The University of California-Davis will offer a course to biology majors that will cover the biology of cannabis and cannabinoids as well as their physiological effects in multiple systems, underlying mechanisms and therapeutic values. It also will survey the history of cannabis use, cover the endocannabinoid system and discuss potential medical targets for cannabis and their relative effectiveness.

Finally, there is a big push at University of California at Los Angeles to create a research center to study the medicinal effects of cannabis on a variety of disease indications.

References

  1. http://cannabisscienceblog.com/2017/06/15/69/ accessed September 25, 017
  2. https://www.businessreport.com/article/lsu-finalizes-medical-marijuana-agreement-gb-sciences/ accessed September 25, 2017
  3. http://learn.uvm.edu/com/program/cannabis-science-and-medicine/ accessed September 25, 2017
  4. http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/academics/course-explorer/category/criminal-law/ accessed September 25, 207
  5. http://adai.uw.edu/mcacp/ accessed September 25, 2017
  6. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/physiology/ accessed September 25, 2017
  7. http://dailybruin.com/2017/05/23/editorial-ucla-must-build-marijuana-research-center-study-effects-of-legalization/ accessed September 25, 2017

Educating and Training Workers for Jobs in the Legal Cannabis Industry

Clark College, a private two year college of nearly 14,000 students located in Vancouver Washington, has begun offering specialized cannabis education and training courses through its Clark College Economic and Community Development (ECD) program. ECD’s mission is to provide the residents of Southwestern Washington State with certificates programs and technical/workforce training.

Recognizing the, health implications, workforce development needs and economic upside of the legal recreational and medicinal cannabis industry in Washington, Clark offered its first cannabis course this past May.  The course entitled “Cannabis and Your Health” is a five week course that showcased topics such as current industry research, the medical benefits of cannabis and the regulatory and tax laws of recreational/medical cannabis in Washington State.  Not surprisingly, the first course offering was full and there is a waiting list to register.

Another course being offered this summer is more focused on work force development and job training. This offering which is geared toward professional Cannabis growers (not home gardeners) explores topics that include growing cannabis, difference between indoor and outdoor growing operations, and the therapeutic benefits offered by different strains/varieties of cannabis.  Like ECD’s first offering the class size for the second course is small (24 persons maximum).

While Clark College’s efforts are modest, it is becoming increasingly evident that cannabis education and job training will be necessary in states where cannabis use is legal. These efforts will help to provide state residents with science-based Cannabis information as well as to help develop the workforces that will be necessary support the development of Cannabis industries in those states.

 

 

THC: The Latest Buzz

Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main active cannabinoid in Cannabis and it is primarily responsible for Cannabis’ psychoactive properties.

It was the first cannabinoid to be isolated and identified (1964) in Cannabis resin and flowers (1) The concentration of THC found in Cannabis and its extracts can vary based on plant variety, cultivation techniques and type of preparation.

Pure THC can be derived from natural sources (extraction from cannabis plants) or produced synthetically. (2) The molecule acts as a partial agonist of CB1 receptors found in the CNS and CB2 receptors found on immune cells. (2)

While THC exhibits potent anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic properties, its development as therapeutic drug treatment has been hindered by its accompanying psychotropic effects. Nevertheless, in the past, dronabinol (Marinol) a synthetic THC and nabilone (Cesamet) a synthetic THC-mimetic received FDA approval as appetite stimulants and treatments for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) (3)  However, neither drug is widely prescribed.

Finally, negative psychotropic reactions and possible development of tolerance to THC could limit the long term clinical and therapeutic uses of the molecule.

REFERENCES

  1. Mechoulam R, Gaoni Y. (1965) A Total Synthesis of Dl-Delta-1-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the Active Constituent of Hashish. Journal of the American Chemical Society 87:3273-3275.
  2. Hazenkamp A, Gortenhermen F (2010) Review on clinical studies with cannabis   and cannabinoids 2005-2009. Cannabinoids 5(special issue):1-21.
  3. Bowles DW, O’Bryant CL, Camidge DR, Jimeno A. (2012) The intersection between cannabis and cancer in the United States. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology 83(1):1-10.

Medical Marijuana Courses Are Now Available for College Credit!

Back in the day when I was going to graduate school in Madison, WI,  there was no such thing as medical Cannabis (although there was plenty of weed to go around).  But, as the line in that old Dylan song goes “the times they are a changin”

Late last month, the University of California-Davis announced that it would be joining Humboldt State University in offering undergraduate students a course entitled Physiology of Cannabis.  FYI, Humboldt State has been offering courses in medical Cannabis since 2012 (not surprising since the school is located in prime Cannabis cultivation territory).

According to UC-Davis officials the semester-long, three credit course will be aimed at biology students and will cover the endocannabinoid system, the effects of cannabinoids on the human body and the therapeutic value of Cannabis.

Likewise, Sonoma State University announced that it will be offering a one day symposium on March 11, 2017  to members of the healthcare industry in the Bay area. The symposium is entitled Medical Cannabis: A Clinical and it is intended as a workforce development course.  Nurses, physicians and pharmacists can get continuing education credit for the course. Topics that will be covered include the history of cannabis, an introduction to cannabinoids and terpenes, dosing and administration of cannabinoids, legal implication and other medical-related issues. The university is also planning a three day course on Cannabis regulatory issues later in the month.

While these courses are available, there is currently no undergraduate degree program in Cannabis science/medicine offered by any US university or college. That said, don’t be surprised if this major becomes a reality in States where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal.