As cannabis for medical use is legalised by an increasing number of states across the United States, University of Maryland has launched the country’s first master’s program in marijuana.
The two-year Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics covers clinical uses of the substance, its adverse effects, public health considerations, as well as potential legal repercussions. While the degree does not require a background in science or medicine, it is geared at industry professionals including health care practitioners, dispensers, scientists and regulators.
This fall, 150 students enrolled in the program, which is based at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland. According to an NPR report, when over 500 potential students applied for the course, the class size had to be increased from 50 to 150. Interested parties came from far and wide, including 32 different states, and even Australia and Hong Kong.
“The program blends online instruction with face-to-face experiences to provide students with the knowledge they need to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy,” states the school’s website.
The use of medical cannabis has been legalised in 33 states across the United States, and this number is expected to increase in the future. This encourages graduates to enter new areas that view the plant as a medical alternative to other treatments. Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, Dean and Professor at UMSOP, says that there is a very real need for a workforce that is trained in the therapeutic effects of the substance.
“Our MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics has been critically designed to prepare students to meet this demand. Innovations in instructional design throughout the curriculum will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive impact on communities across the United States,” she says.
The course is held predominantly online to make it easy for students with jobs and family commitments to undertake the program. This also ensures those not living within the physical vicinity of the university to take advantage of the program. An in-person symposium is held each semester to encourage students to meet each other and network with experts in the field.
The legalisation of medical cannabis in the United States has created over 211,000 jobs since last year, according to Leafly. Significantly, cannabis-related employment increased by 21 percent in 2017 and 44 percent in 2018. Also to put this in perspective, Maryland’s state medical marijuana program already has over 84,000 patients.
“While going back to school is not a requirement for many of the jobs in the sector such as budtenders and trimmers, it is crucial that others responsible for advising patients about the plant have a sufficient level of knowledge to do so,” says health Mary Wilson expert from Thegoodestate.com.