As an MCPHS University 6th year pharmacy student on APPE rotation with RXinsider, I have the opportunity to stay current with trends and news surrounding the world of pharmacy. Throughout this experience, I have been exposed to various new and innovative technologies and products. In addition, I have also been exposed to new and upcoming concepts/programs, both from an industry and an academic perspective. I have come across one particularly intriguing academic program from the University of Maryland which I think my APPE peers would share an equal interest in.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched the first ever Masters of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis and Therapeutics program in the United States. The launch of this program comes at a very opportune time as cannabis has rapidly gained traction as a legitimate medication. Although 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, and many others legalizing recreational as well, there is still insufficient education and knowledge on the topic as a whole. In states with medical cannabis, there is an abundance of dispensaries, however, in most cases, there are no medical professionals working there. This causes a huge lapse in healthcare as we allow non-medical professionals to dispense medication to patients without the ability to provide valid medical advice. This creates a lot of gray areas within the world of medical cannabis and is something that I believe an MS degree program in Medical Cannabis will clarify.
This program is offered to graduate students who have already received an undergraduate degree from a university and wish to pursue a future in the medical cannabis industry. The two-year program is a blend of online classes and live seminars held at the University of Maryland Shady Grove campus in Rockville, MD. It is a two-year program which “aims to meet the needs of all individuals interested in advancing their knowledge about medical cannabis, including health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; scientists and regulators; growers and dispensary owners; and policy and industry professionals”. This program encompasses everything from the basic sciences applied to cannabis to the clinical uses, adverse effects, and even policy and laws surrounding cannabis. The courses are taught primarily by the School of Pharmacy staff and are geared towards both individuals with and without a medical/science background.
I find this program to be extremely appealing as an aspiring pharmacist who is coming into the world of medicine alongside cannabis. This is a rapidly growing industry from both a medical and recreational standpoint and with that comes the need for education. There are currently only 5 states which require a pharmacist on-site to dispense cannabis, however, I feel as if this trend will certainly expand over the next several years. The expanded role of medical cannabis and its integration into healthcare is inevitably accompanied by the need for accredited knowledge on the topic. I believe that the University of Maryland offers a tremendous opportunity, at a crucial time, to those aspiring to enter the world of medical cannabis.