Jefferson University offers graduate degrees in budding new field of study

Institution leading the way in world of medical marijuana education

Pat Loeb
July 12, 2018 - 4:33 pm
medical marijuana

Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Medical marijuana has become a multibillion-dollar industry, but there's no university program providing advanced training for professionals in the field. 

That's about to change — and Thomas Jefferson University is stepping in to fill the void.

Jefferson plans to become the first university in the country to offer a graduate program in marijuana.  

Courses start this fall for two graduate certificate programs in cannabis medicine and cannabinoid pharmacology. A third course is also in the works with an option for a master's degree.

"Jefferson has sort of carved out a pioneer space in the legal cannabis world, from a scientific and medical perspective," said Charles Pollack, head of the Lambert Center — another first of its kind institution dedicated to marijuana education and research. 

He said because the federal government does not recognize legal use of marijuana, there's a lack of guidance and involvement normally provided by the FDA.

"There's not a standardization of what's given to patients, what's recommended for patients," he added, "and we feel a way to offer interested professionals more information on which to base decisions that could impact clinical care is nothing but a good thing."

Most of the classes are online. Tuition for the year-long program is about $14,000.

Pollack expects others will follow suit, but Jefferson has a head start, having enlisted experts from around the world to serve as faculty in the programs — including John Hudak, author of "Marijuana: A Short History," who is teaching an online course on the culture and politics of cannabis.

"Professionals in this space often get very narrow insight into what cannabis is all about, and so this offers a pretty broad-based introduction to make people more well-rounded and up to date," he noted.