Marijuana isn’t only going mainstream, it’s also going to college. A number of universities have now begun to offer courses on cannabis.
The first school to begin this trend was the University of Vermont, which started out by offering a graduate-level course called “Medical Cannabis.” It then expanded the graduate curriculum to offer students classes on various topics under the cannabis umbrella, including the plant’s history, its effects on human physiology, and legal issues related to its production and medicinal uses.
The University of California, Davis also offers a 420-themed class called “Cannabis Physiology,” which teaches students how cannabinoids, or the active compounds in the cannabis plant, affect the body.
Meanwhile, the University of Washington offers a class called “Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain” for healthcare professionals, while the University of California, Los Angeles has a 40-person research team focused on examining the medical effects of the plant. “Cannabis may represent a cheap, safe, and effective alternative to certain pharmaceutical drugs for certain diseases,” says team leader Dr. Jeff Chen.
Other schools cover the more legal side of cannabis, rather than the medical side. Ohio State University offers a course at the College of Law entitled “Marijuana Law, Policy, and Reform Seminar,” which teaches students about federal and state cannabis law. The class examines 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,” according to the course description.
Vanderbilt Law School also offers a class called “Marijuana Law and Policy” that examines the state “experiments” in legalization and “takes an in-depth look at the competing approaches to regulating marijuana, the rationales behind these approaches, and where legal authority resides for choosing among them,” according to the course description. The University of Denver has a cannabis business class, as well, offered at the law school, while other schools like Santa Clara University School of Law provide seminars or think tanks about the legal predicament conflicting cannabis laws often pose to lawmakers and attorneys.
As the cannabis industry becomes more pervasive, people from all different fields may need to learn more about the plant — whether it’s how cannabinoids affect the human body, how businesses and financial investors need to accommodate tricky cannabis regulations, or how lawyers need to represent clients.
“Almost every lawyer in the state needs to know something about this,” says law professor Sam Kamin from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. “I’ve had people asking me to teach this class for a while. They’re hungry for this knowledge.”