A quick search for “cannabis college,” will turn up a growing list of weekend or short term classes. But these independent and often unofficial operations don’t offer much more than a certificate of achievement. While these classes may be fun for the hobbyist with money to burn, more traditional colleges and universities are picking up on the cannabis trend and offering college credit any, maybe one day, a degree.
While you might not be able to major in cannabis just yet, a growing number of colleges are offering cannabis classes. Stoner jokes aside, top colleges across the country (well, where weed is currently legal) allow students to study marijuana for course credit; nevermind your extracurricular cannabis activities.
California leads the charge with cannabis-forward classes at both the University of California Los Angeles and Davis.
UC Davis, known for its pioneering agricultural programs, began offering Cannabis sativa: The Plant and its Impact on People in fall 2018. This graduate course teaches “how specialized metabolites synthesized by cannabis interact with receptors in the mammalian endocannabinoid neurotransmitter system and how these interactions affect pain sensation, mood, memory and other central nervous functions” – basically how cannabis affects humans. The course also explores the biology, genetics and biochemistry of the plant itself.
Not to be outdone, UCLA approaches cannabis from a medical standpoint. The UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative aims to fill the gap in current cannabis research. Federal regulations hinder many cannabis studies and this initiative hopes to take a deep look into benefits and side effects of cannabis. With support from the school’s already prestigious UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the UCLA Brain Research Institute, the mission of the UCLA CRI is to study the therapeutic potential and health risk of cannabis as well as examine its social, economic and legal impact.
Further up the coast, the University of Washington offers a training program designed for current medical professionals. The Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain program offers “graduates” a Continuing Medical Education credit and equipes them with an understanding of the endocannabinoid system and Washington state laws on recommending cannabis, specifically related to chronic pain. The program is currently on hiatus but, according to the program website, may return in 2019.
Similar to the University of Washington’s course, the University of Vermont offers Continuing Medical Education geared toward creating medical professionals. The Professional Certificate in Cannabis Science and Medicine provides an overview of how to prescribe cannabis for therapeutic use while minimizing patient risks. UVT also offers free online webinars and cannabis lectures for hobbyists.
Although it doesn’t have cannabis in the title, it’s easy to read between the lines of the Medicinal Plant Chemistry degree at Northern Michigan University. This undergraduate degree is run by the school’s chemistry department and provides a foundation in plant biology, chemistry and horticulture. From there, students can choose to dive into the chemistry of medicinal plants, like cannabis, with the Bio-analytical Track or go the business route with the Entrepreneurial Track which includes classes in the business track.