In an effort to ensure pharmacology students are well versed in the area of medical marijuana, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy plans to offer a course on the subject.
According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, the school joins a handful of institutions of higher learning willing to bring students up to speed on the science and legality of one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
Pharmacy professor Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, who serves as the executive director of the school's Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions, says the goal of the program is to guarantee that students who plan on involving themselves in medical marijuana therapy are “trained in best practices to do it safely and effectively.”
"We wanted to be there as a resource," she said.
The 30-hour certification program, which was designed in partnership with the national marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, will be made available online for around $750.
Although the university cannot legally endorse the use of marijuana, Rodriguez de Bittner told the Sun that the school understands the importance of providing its future graduates with all of the tools they will need to advise patients on many facets of medicine.
Despite the fact that marijuana is now legal for medicinal purposes in more than half the nation, it is not common for universities to get involved with anything associated with the herb.
Since the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug, any policy connected to the substance could cause the school to lose funding. Although there was not much of a of this when Obama was still in office, now that President Trump has lined Washington D.C with a legion of anti-drug politicians, the potential for problems has increased by exponential proportions.
There is hope that, someday, medical marijuana will take the place of dangerous medications, and some research shows that patients are already using fewer opioids in states that have medical marijuana laws in place.
However, the latest statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention indicates that doctors are still prescribing too many painkillers. It is a situation that “is driving our problem with drug overdoses and drug overdose deaths in the country,” Anne Schuchat, acting director at the CDC, told National Public Radio.
Without a doubt, the national opioid epidemic could certainly benefit from pharmacists with medical marijuana expertise. But until the federal government lifts some of the restrictions on the herb, it is going to be up to schools like the University of Maryland to see that our young medicine men and women are fully prepared when national policy finally catches up.