The first class of graduate students on a dedicated medical cannabis course have completed their degree.
Launched in 2019, the Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics masters programme at the University of Maryland was the first of its kind in the US.
The degree was launched by the prestigious Baltimore university to capitalise on a wave of liberalisation driven by states pushing laws further and faster than the federal government.
Medical usage of cannabis is now legal to some extent in 36 out of 50 states and one forecast predicts the industry will be worth $84bn by 2028, despite national prohibition laws.
As well as training the next generation of health professionals, the degree is also aimed at students looking to go into careers in regulation, cultivation or running a dispensary business.
Addressing the class of 2021, Natalie D. Eddington, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy, said: “As the first graduates of the first master’s program in medical cannabis in the country, you are trailblazers and leaders, innovators and risk takers, and change-makers.
“As states have legalised medical cannabis, trailblazers like you have lined up to be at the forefront of this emerging industry by opening or working in dispensaries or welcoming patients into your medical practice.
“Those of you not directly involved in the industry seek ways to be involved, to advocate for improved regulations and policies, to change laws, and to better understand the science of this plant.”
Leah Sera, director of the programme, said: “The field of medical cannabis has grown and evolved in the two years since you’ve started this program, and I see now clearer than ever, the need for individuals with your expertise to nurture and push this industry forward.
“With your passion, knowledge and skill, you will improve the lives of patience through research, practice, education, and advocacy.”
Educational institutions are increasingly looking to capitalise on the rapid growth of the medical cannabis industry by launching dedicated courses.
Several US universities have followed the University of Maryland’s lead and earlier this month a unique research programme at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin drew to a close.