Israeli College Offers Country's First Medical Cannabis Degree Program
After decades of busting students trying to grow weed in their dorm rooms, colleges across the world are starting to offer classes on growing medical cannabis.
Published on July 10, 2019

Since legalizing medical marijuana in the early '90s, Israel has become one of the world leaders in medical marijuana research. The country has done away with the restrictive laws that prevent American scientists from accessing research-quality cannabis, and has seen its medical cannabis industry consistently grow as a result. Yet despite this constant expansion, the country's schools do not offer students a chance to learn the skills necessary to advance in the quickly evolving industry. 

That will change starting next year. The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College in Galilee is offering a new BA Degree in Behavioral Sciences program with a specialization in medical marijuana for its next academic year. The program will feature a number of courses focusing on the science, economics, and legal issues associated with cannabis and its medical applications.

Students will also learn how to grow and produce cannabis, and third-year students can put their knowledge to the test with hands-on experience at local medical marijuana farms. The school expects that graduates of its new program will be able to find work as project managers, research coordinators, treatment coordinators, or in other roles within the country's growing medical cannabis sector.

“The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while turning it into a field of academic study,” said Efrat Barel, head of the new program, according to The Jerusalem Post. “[The program’s] broad academic base will enable graduates to understand every aspect of the field. Their joining the industry’s workforce will bring added value to the sector.”

After years of delays, the Israeli government approved the export of medical cannabis last January, a decision that is expected to bring over $4 billion into the country every year. The Health Ministry is expected to begin granting licenses to cannabis exporters this year, and as the number of licensed companies grow, the number of jobs in the cannabis sector is also expected to grow.

“The cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago,” Yezreel Valley College President Professor Itzhak Harpaz said, Haaretz reports. “Israel needs and can lead this industry, too. This industry is already characterized by many new ventures and technologies, and it is already clear that its economic potential can reach tens of billions of dollars. We are proud to be the first to develop an academic specialization in the field of medical cannabis.”

Although Yezreel Valley College is the first Israeli school to offer an undergraduate cannabis program, there are a number of other global institutions that allow their students to specialize in weed. Starting next year, the University of Maryland and McGill University in Montreal will each begin offering graduate degrees in medical marijuana. Stockton University in New Jersey also allows student to minor in cannabis studies, and Northern Michigan University offers an undergraduate degree in medicinal plant chemistry.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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