The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) is answering a cultural request by offering the first graduate program dedicated to the study of marijuana – yes, marijuana. The university’s official website posted the announcement in June 2019 and stated that the, “Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics [seeks] to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research in the field, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy.”
While celebrities and abuelos alike are entering the marijuana advocacy and business sector education has been a bit slower until now.
Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland, Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS cited the increasing amount of states and U.S. colonies that have already legalized medical marijuana use as the reason to offer the course. Currently 33 states have legalized marijuana for medical usage and many feel that number will only increase.
The program is designed for a wide audience of people who already have a Bachelor’s Degree and offers a hybrid course model that includes most instruction happening online while students are required to attend in person events once a semester.
However, while the program sounds exciting and offers a variety of ways to attend and does not require a traditional thesis to complete it is still missing a large group of people by making it a graduate program.
As previously reported on BELatina, Black and Latinx people continue to be left out of an industry they pioneered long before it was the newest venture to be involved in. Black and Latinx people continue to face barriers into the legalizing sector of marijuana consumption, distribution, and education because of racist law and rule enforcement practices.
In their 2018 report, The Drug Policy Alliance stated that despite legalization and decriminalization happening in certain states, “there is currently a lack of equity and inclusion in the regulated marijuana market. The communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization have struggled to overcome the many barriers to participation in this market.”
Some states are trying to reduce these barriers to entry through making laws that provide easier process and procedures for Black and brown people to enter the sector. In New York state, Black policymakers are refusing to sign laws that do not clearly state how they will help and benefit Black and brown communities once passed.
Hopefully as more academic institutions continue to see the value and need of providing formal education around the marijuana industry they are able to create equitable inroads for communities previously over policed and over criminalized to take advantage of these courses.
Until then, Leah Sera, PharmD, MA, BCPS states that this program is unique and that, “there is truly no other educational program that offers the in-depth instruction on the science, policy, and therapeutics of medical cannabis and that students who are accepted into our program will receive.”
Anyone with a Bachelor’s Degree, working in the medical marijuana sector or has an interest in working in the sector is able to apply. Classes start on August 26th.