A Vermont Medical School Becomes the First to Offer a Medical Marijuana Course

By: Timothy Bidon

The University of Vermont  (UVM) garnered national media attention this month when it became one of the nation’s first medical schools to offer an in-depth course surrounding the science behind medical marijuana. Although other universities have long offered courses surrounding the legal and policy issues of marijuana, UVM is among the first schools on record to teach about marijuana as a medical concept.

The goal of the course, according to numerous professors at the university, is to demystify the concept of marijuana as medicine and teach a future generation of doctors and healthcare professionals the science behind cannabis’ medicinal benefits. The main obstacle the professors face, however, is a lack of reliable information surrounding a medicine that society has deemed taboo up until recently.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Vermont medical professor Wolfgang Dostmann explained the ultimate goals of the course. “What we’re trying to do with this course is to sort of demystify this whole subject matter, to try to treat this like any other drug, like alcohol or amphetamines or opioids. Just demystify the whole thing and say what it is, what is going on with it, how does it work,” he said.

Vermont is one of 23 states that now offers legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes, and this shift in public opinion is demonstrated through the overwhelming interest in the course. Not only did UVM’s course fill up quickly, but the professors actually had to expand the class roster cap to accommodate the large student interest.

The course is slated to cover a variety of scientific concepts surrounding marijuana and is open to students as well as the public. It will focus on cannabinoids, marijuana’s physiological effects, emerging therapeutic applications, as well as some social, historical, and political concepts surrounding the plant.

Students enrolled in the course also stand to benefit from Vermont’s legalized medical marijuana program, which will allow them the opportunity for more hands-on scientific learning experiences. A UVM research affiliate and head of a Vermont medical marijuana dispensary has already signed up to teach the students a lesson on the marijuana plant’s biology. Students may also have the opportunity to visit the Legislature, where they will be able to discuss the policy surrounding marijuana legalization.

Many speculate that the course being offered at UVM will be the first of many. Courses like these, which up until this point have been offered exclusively online, will further boost the efficacy of the cannabis industry. By educating a new generation of medical professionals about the many benefits of marijuana, we are ensuring a more scientifically sound future for the medical cannabis industry as a whole.

Lead image source: University of Vermont