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.


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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.



Commercializing Cannabis-Derived Pharmaceuticals: Manufacturing, Quality and Healthcare Challenges

While overcoming the legal and regulatory challenges for commercializing cannabis- derived pharmaceuticals is essential, there are a variety of technical, manufacturing and healthcare obstacles that must be addressed before this class of molecules can be successful.

First, substantial financial investment must be made in infrastructure and production facilities to breed and grow different cannabis strains to obtain appropriate chemical compositions and extracts to treat specific therapeutic indications (1). Industry experts contend that this investment must include research on strain construction, cannabinoid concentrations at different stages of plant growth/harvest times and yield improvements. Interestingly, crop failure (not having a redundancy of supply) is a serious issue that all commercial entities in the medical cannabis industry must address and contend with to meet commercial demand.

Second, plant growth (use of insecticides, herbicides etc), extraction processes, and product formulation of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals must be conducted according to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) and rigorous quality standards (1). After all, the primary reason for seeking regulatory approval for these drugs is to demonstrate to patients and healthcare providers that cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals have been thoroughly reviewed, are well characterized and determined to be safe and effective. Implementation of pharmaceutical CGMPs (2) will ensure cannabis-derived pharmaceutical product safety, efficacy and quality over time.

Third, the route of delivery and dosing regimens for cannabis-based pharmaceuticals for specific indications will be vitally important. While smoking/vaporizing cannabis is currently the most obvious method to deliver desired therapeutic effects, it may not be the most effective to maximize its therapeutic benefits for different indications and individual patients (3). Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in exploring oral, oromucosal, topical and sustained release delivery of cannabis-derived pharmaceutical depending upon the therapeutic indication of interest.

Fourth, efforts must be initiated to get Cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals on the drug formularies of state government insurers and third party insurance companies. At present, medical marijuana costs are usually not reimbursable by conventional health insurance companies (4) and out-of-pocket expenditures can be costly especially for those individuals who suffer from long term, chronic clinical indications like cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. However, if Cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (and are rescheduled) it is likely that these drugs will be covered by government and third party healthcare payers (5).

Finally, safeguards must be put into place to ensure protection against misuse, fraud and abuse of Cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals by healthcare providers and patients. The development of novel metered dose devices to deliver these products will help to limit misuse and abuse.


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Finding a Science Job in the Cannabis Industry

According to a recent report by the Cannabis website Leafly, America’s legal cannabis industry now supports more than 122,000 full-time jobs in 29 States and Washington DC. I

A recent article by Bruce Barcott entitled “How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry” offers some insights on the types of jobs that are available and how to land one.

He offered, like most industries the best way to land a job in the Cannabis industry is to network yourself into one. Also, working with a recruiting firm can be helpful.  Interestingly, recruiting firms and staffing companies that specialize in Cannabis jobs are popping up daily in many states where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal. However, before you take the plunge it is important to educate yourself to determine what is out there and whether or not you are a good fit for a Cannabis career.

So what do we know?  Most of the open jobs are in the Western states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona with a growing presence in Minnesota and Massachusetts. There are a smattering of jobs emerging in New York, Connecticut, Maryland  and Washington DC.  While 40 percent of open positions are specific to the Cannabis industry, roughly 60 are jobs that exist in other industries such as executive assistants, human resources specialists retail operations directors bookkeepers and staff accountants.That said, there are a number of Cannabis business operators who are looking for pharmaceutical sales representatives, or in horticulturalists from large commercial plant growing operations.

So question is: are there are any jobs in the Cannabis for the average Bio Job Blog reader?  The answer is YES!!!!!!  Here are a few examples: Laboratory chemist, operations manager, analytical chemist/production manager, software developer, food productions manager, and my favorite professional joint roller.  Of course there will be many more opportunities as the industry continues to grow (pun intended). That said, relocation is likely required but then again if you are qualified and possess the skills the company may offer a relocation package.  There is a ton of money being made in the industry!

The Cannabis Science Blog: Providing Cannabis Users With Science-based Facts, Information and Data

The medicinal properties of Cannabis (aka pot, weed, etc) for treating cancer-related pain, glaucoma, nausea and vomiting and many chronic medical conditions are well established and scientifically documented. To date, over 28 US States and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation that permits some form of Cannabis consumption for medical purposes. In addition, five states have made Cannabis use legal for recreational purposes.

Industry analysts estimate that the existing Cannabis market (legal and illegal) is already as big a business as coffee, wine, chocolate and Indian gaming with roughly $30-$40 billion (( in annual consumer spending. Industry analysts estimate that as much as one in five dollars is spent on legal Cannabis and its products ( At present, roughly 90% of Cannabis use is recreational and approximately 36% of Americans report mixed medical and recreational use (

According to Bloomberg News ( the size of the US legal Cannabis market including cultivation, drug distribution/delivery and related services is currently estimated to be $7.2 billion with expansive growth expected over the next decade. Further, a 2016 report “The State of Legal Marijuana Markets” from the ArcView Market Research Group (, projects that annual US legal recreational and medical marijuana sales may reach almost $23 billion by 2020. Not surprisingly, this has unleashed an unprecedented flurry of private investment into the legal Cannabis market. This, in turn, has spurred creation of thousands of medical and recreational Cannabis start ups mainly focusing on industrial cultivation, packaging, distribution and sales (dispensaries) and delivery devices/paraphernalia.

While the actual size of the Cannabis media/communication/information market is unknown, New Frontier Data (, a Cannabis analytics company, estimates that 4 in 10 Americans have tried Cannabis and approximately 183,000 million have legal access to medical marijuana in the US and Canada. Further, according to the National Academy of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, Cannabis is the most popular drug in the US, with an estimated 22.2 million Americans ages 12 or older using Cannabis in the past 30 days (

Finally, a 2016 report from Marijuana Business Daily ( estimates that there are currently between 21,000-33,000 businesses (medical dispensaries/recreational stores, wholesale growers, infused product manufacturers, testing laboratories and ancillary services) that support the Cannabis industry.

Although a recent National Academy of Science Reported found that over 10,000 scientific articles about Cannabis have been published over the past decade or so,  much of this science-based news,  information and data is not available or interpretable by most Cannabis users.   To wit, the goal of the Cannabis Science blog is to provide Cannabis users with the latest science-based news and information about “all things Cannabis.”