Medical marijuana comes to the classroom

N.D. (Valley News Live) - "For me personally, I was paralyzed nearly 20 years ago," says Brandon Muhs, a medical marijuana patient. "Everything is much more of a struggle, because when you live with pain - severities of pain that I do, it disrupts everything."

Muhs uses medical marijuana to help with his chronic pain, and he credits cannabis with his recovery.

"A lot of just normal, daily things are an exertion for me," Muhs says. "Cannabis just helped me be able to come back as far as I have."

And he’s not alone. Industry researchers expect the country’s legal cannabis market to grow by nearly 15% a year - creating 250,000 new jobs by 2020.

It’s a demand Minot State University plans to meet. In a statement, the school says this spring semester, chemistry students can opt to learn the skills and techniques necessary to work in the medical marijuana field.

"Skilled professionals are, and will continue to be, needed to perform extraction, purification, and analysis of products originating from plants," Minot State Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Geller says. "This new option creates additional opportunities for current and future students who want to pursue these emerging career fields."

"As a new option under our existing B.A. in Chemistry, students pursuing our Medicinal Plant Chemistry option can expect it to be demanding, but also very rewarding," Chris Heth, assistant professor of chemistry, says. "Students will begin by learning the chemical theory that drives the world around us, then will learn to apply that theory to solve problems specific to botanical industries. Educated, skilled workers with highly technical laboratory training are already in demand doing quality control and assurance work in the food and pharmaceutical industries. With recent changes, the DEA reclassifying CBD oil from a Schedule 1 substance to a Schedule 5 substance, for instance, that demand is expected to increase. We at Minot State have the ability to help meet that demand."

For medical marijuana supporters, it’s a step in the right direction.

"They have to look forward into the future as to how these things are going to progress," Muhs says.

“I think this is the best way we can do it right now,” says David Owen, with Legalize ND. “I think, in the future, instead of doing what they’re doing now - it will be integrated into the medical school program.”

Owens says the more education around medical marijuana, the closer the community moves towards normalizing it as a treatment option.

“Ultimately the goal of medical marijuana is to move it to a situation where it’s similar or more analogous to prescription medication. That is to say, I go to a doctor – I am prescribed a dosage, I’m prescribed an amount. I’m prescribed it in a specific delivery mechanism,” Owens says.

Making it easier for patients like Muhs to get the help they need.

"It has come around ten-fold what it was before with public acceptance, public understanding," says Muhs. "The more they learn how to produce quality products, then that's obviously better for everybody all around."

We asked NDSU about its medical marijuana coursework. The school says it currently does not have any experts or classes on the topic.

But that may not be the norm. A recent survey of schools and colleges of pharmacy finds 62% already include medical marijuana content in their curriculum and another 23% plan to add it within the next year.



 
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