Could Cannabis Education Become Core Curriculum for Future Medical Students?

Cannabis Education

Dr. Michael Verbora works at the Canabo Medical Clinic, located in midtown Toronto. He has been giving resident doctors from the nearby University of Toronto with the fundamentals of medicinal cannabis, so they can better care for those who rely heavily on the plant.

Becoming Familiar with Medicinal Marijuana

Doctor Verbora is also the chief medical officer for Aleafia – a medical cannabis company. When students come in to complete their residencies, they have a very limited (if any) education pertaining to the role of cannabis in the treatment and support of diseases. By the time they leave, however, they have a good understanding of:

  • The endocannabinoid system – how it works, what its role is in health and disease
  • The most appropriate way of consumption for medical cannabis, based on the disease or symptoms it is treating
  • The risks and benefits of treating individuals with medical marijuana
  • In what instances it is (or is not) appropriate to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient

Why This is Important

Education is always important, but it is especially so for physicians. The more a physician can know about a wide range of relevant topics, the better. Unfortunately, a great number of physicians do not currently understand how medicinal cannabis works nor how to effectively utilize it in the treatment of patients.

How the Issue is Getting Fixed

With widespread legality of cannabis for medicinal use, more doctors need to become knowledgeable on the subject. This is imperative for safe, practical use – as well as the potential advancement of research into what role cannabis plays in a wide variety of disease (like cancer, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s Disease, for example).

There was such a gap in education surrounding this subject that the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (also known as the CFMS) have proposed that a new course covering a “longitudinal, evidence-based cannabis course” into all medical undergraduate programs across the country.

The paper states that there is a very large gap surrounding cannabis education. In fact, there are little to no courses currently available for those who would like to become more educated. What is learned is either through independent studies or residencies, like the one mentioned in the beginning of this article.

 Roadblocks and Controversy

Legalizing medicinal marijuana is not a new idea. Many states (US) and provinces (Canada) have allowed cannabis for medicinal usage for a number of years. Yet this has not fully dispelled the reputation of weed as a drug, as set about by the infamous “War on Drugs,” launched decades ago.

Due to misinformation in the decades since, many professionals and patients believe that marijuana is an “evil” substance of the likes of heroine or methamphetamines. Yet this isn’t true. While street weed may, indeed, be contaminated with other substances, marijuana itself is a very natural plant which is primarily non-harmful to humans. The slew of side effects seen in recreational usage are primarily attributed to a high THC content caused by cross-breeding programs exactly for those desired effects. Medicinal cannabis, on the other hand, leans towards a higher CBD content which does not produce as many – or any – unnecessary side effects.

Canadian Medical Students Can Get Credit for Marijuana Production Studies

Credit for Marijuana Production Studies

Beleave Kannabis Corporation is an Ontario marijuana company that wants to do more than just grow pot. Their goal is to build an empire of marijuana production specialists who know the science behind planting, regulation, and proper safety methods. The issue? A lack of experienced marijuana producers.

Since Canada legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, the industry has literally exploded with a demand for both more untarnished marijuana and experienced people to help tend the plants. The North American country was the very first industrialized country to fully decriminalize the plant this past October.

Turning to Universities for Assistance

The answer to the industry’s labor shortage has an easy answer – the recruitment of university science and medical students. Beleave Kannabis Corporation has asked local universities to send them the top of their classes.

In response to the new industry’s request, around a dozen colleges around Canada have added or expanded upon current courses to help train a brand-new generation of marijuana production specialists. These schools even allow the classes to count towards student’s associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Other schools have chosen to offer special certifications.

The Era of the “Green Rush”

Alison McMahon is the founder of a web recruitment site called Cannabis At Work. She has dubbed this sudden boom “The Green Rush,” and the term is remarkably appropriate. The rush to learn the marijuana production trade, coupled with the public’s desperate need to end marijuana shortage issues, is reminiscent of the American Gold Rush in the 1840’s and 1850’s.

Canada legalized medicinal marijuana nearly two decades ago, in 2001, but October marked the beginning of this new era with recreational now being legal, also. This full decriminalization has led to a hiring boom. Growers need more hands to help scale up production, while distributers need more people to help supply the public directly.

The hiring boom is so large that marijuana openings now account for 34 of every 10K jobs posted in Canada, according to Indeed.

McGill University Becomes First to Offer Degree

Although many schools have incorporated classes that will count towards credit in science, botany, or medicine, McGill University has decided to take things a step further. Starting in January of 2020, students at the school will be able to receive a graduate degree in marijuana cultivation and production.

To be entered into the graduate program, a student must have completed a bachelor’s degree in botany or a related field. This could include earth sciences, biology, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, or any number of other fields.

Many thinks that the strict requirements of the graduate program are a little insane. When you consider the extensive knowledge needed to grow, understand, harvest, and otherwise tend to marijuana plants, the requirements are pretty standard.

Others thought a graduate program in marijuana cultivation was a little unorthodox in its own right. McGill University fired back to these statements, saying that a lot of science and understanding of agriculture is required to grow the many different strains of marijuana.