Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vermont Starts Teaching Marijuana Science In Medical School

An article on Miami Herald's website about the introduction of marijuana science into the curriculum at the University of Vermont explains how some professors are building from the ground up.

Photo: Lisa Rathke, AP
The professors at U of V see the lack of research up to this point as a challenge on which they look forward to start working.

Other colleges have offered law or policy based classes on marijuana but this would be the first time a full course was offered on the subject.

In the article Vermont Pharmacology professor Wolfgang Dostmann says he would like to demystify the whole subject matter "Just demystify the whole thing and say what it is, what is going on with it, how does it work."

Legal in 23 states, but illegal under federal law, medical marijuana has seen promising results in the large numbers of people experimenting with it as a treatment for a number of different conditions.

Everyone is talking about medical cannabis. The article points out how "Nearly 90 graduate and undergraduate students have signed up for the Vermont class."  They have had to adjust the classroom size twice since enrollment was opened. The general public are welcome to check out the class, as well as members of the Legislature, law enforcement, or medicine.

The article interviews Alice Peng who said she signed up because she's interested in the potential for marijuana to treat pain. She also said "I do work in the cancer center in the hospital, and so I see a lot of cancer patients, and I would be really interested in seeing how it would help their chronic pain"

Karen Lounsbury is a pharmacology professor in Vermont who says she and her colleagues are hampered by a lack of high-quality research (no pun intended), "There's so much information out there that's just hearsay" said Dr. Lounsbury.

The article said the course will cover cannabis taxonomy; medical chemistry of cannabinoids, the chemicals found in marijuana; physiological effects of the drug; emerging therapeutic applications; and the historical, political and socioeconomic influences on marijuana legislation.

Two of the professors who will be teaching the class have slightly different specialties.

Dostmann works in pharmacokinetics and Lounsbury focuses on the body's physiological and biological response to a drug.

Some non-professors who will be adding to the course were mentioned in the article.

A university research affiliate and head of a Vermont medical marijuana dispensary will discuss the plant's biology. An associate business professor who is part of a Vermont think tank working to develop technology to research uses of medical marijuana products will talk about economic impacts.

The article mentioned how books on the science of marijuana often contain sections that teach people how to clean their bong which some see as a negative mark on the book's credibility.

The two professors at Vermont plan to write their own textbook for future studies. They hope this interesting topic will inspire students to study pharmacology. They hope to raise awareness about a therapeutic herb that could have a lot of potential.

I can't wait for these professors, and their students to do credible research which will further demonstrate the degree to which cannabis can be both safe and effective for a number of problems.

I am sure research from this college will lend legitimacy to a concept already understood by many cannabis veterans. Cannabis is a preventative and is so safe can be consumed daily along with other nutritional herbs as part of a healthy lifestyle.

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