The University of Maryland (UMSOP) has launched the first program in the country that offers a medical marijuana graduate degree that prepares graduates for leadership in the field of cannabis research and the application of marijuana-based medications.
The Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics degree program provides 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.”
The medical marijuana graduate program aims to produce graduates who can work not only on properly administering cannabis-based drugs, but also put their knowledge to use in developing safe and effective marijuana medications.
Science, Health and Law
The new program addresses the fact that marijuana currently sits at the intersection of science, health and the law. The classes, which are offered online, are designed to teach students:
- Basic science, including pharmacology, chemistry and medical cannabis delivery systems
- Clinical uses
- Adverse effects and public health considerations
- Federal and state laws and policies that apply to marijuana
Students take classes online but also must visit campus a few times during the two-year medical marijuana graduate program. The classes, according to the school, are handled through the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville.
Graduates are prepared to apply their knowledge to identify candidates for medical cannabis, as well as determining dosing levels. They also will be able to find additional areas for research in the future related to the science, health effects and policies surrounding medical cannabis (and participate in the policymaking decision process for medical cannabis).
Why UMSOP? Why Now?
In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) Dean Natalie Eddington said the schooled started the program after learning that many students in pharmacy, medicine and nursing don’t feel they know enough about medical cannabis.
Eddington, who also teaches in the program, said that with 33 states legalizing medical marijuana, there “needs to be a comprehensive program that really addresses medical cannabis to dispel some myths and provide some evidence that supports the clinical efforts of medical cannabis.”
She also referred to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. In that report, conclusions were drawn about cannabis using more than 10,00o scientific abstracts. This led University of Maryland leaders to determine that more, contemporary research is needed and that people need to be better trained to handle that research and the use of marijuana with patients.
The medical marijuana graduate program has drawn students from around the country and with different ambitions and from different age groups. One example of this is Joe Stone, a 50-year-old investment and financial advisor from Naples, Florida, who told U.S. News he hopes to become a craft cannabis grower once he earns his master degree.