Now that Michigan is a weed-legal state, its universities are recognizing that jobs in the industry are about to be in high demand. And to prepare graduates for careers in the medical and retail cannabis industry, the University of Michigan is offering a course that will give students a deep look at the science around marijuana. That course, PharmSci 420—of course—is on offer for the first time at UM this semester. And it’s already one of the most well-attended pharmacy classes at the prestigious public university.
PharmSci 420 Course Teaches Science of Medical Cannabis
Professor Gus Rosania has been a long-time advocate of a rigorous scientific approach to the study of cannabis. And now that his state has opted to fully legalize the cannabis industry, students are approaching that science with a newfound sense of urgency. Prof. Rosania says attendance at his pharmacy course lectures typically hovers around 25 percent. But 90 percent of his students have been showing up to his PharmSci 420 lectures.
Half of Prof. Rosania’s students are pharmacy majors. But the course has also attracted students from a range of other disciplines, including computer science, business, nursing and botany. PharmSci 420 guest lecturer and chemistry professor David H. Sherman says that this interdisciplinary approach is exactly what makes the study of cannabis so interesting. “What I love about this field is how multi-disciplinary it is,” Sherman said.
Guest Lecturers from Across the Industry Attract PharmSci 420 Students to Career Opportunities
With job opportunities for college grads barely starting to recover, career prospects in the cannabis industry present exciting opportunities. Universities across the country have seized on this student interest to build new curriculums and course offerings focused on cannabis. In fact, Michigan is a trend-setter in this department. Northern Michigan University became the first in the U.S. to offer a four-year degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, a program it launched in 2017.
At other colleges, universities and technical schools, students can find horticulture classes on growing cannabis, business classes on starting a cannabis company, social science classes on law and health issues surrounding cannabis and more. UM’s PharmSci 420 course will focus primarily on the biomedical science of cannabis. A typical lecture, for example, might study the secondary metabolism and biosynthesis of CBD and THC.
But PharmSci 420 will also rely heavily on industry experts. Guest lecturers include physicians, psychologists, lawyers, social policy experts and dispensary operators. That’s why the course has attracted so many students outside of pharmacy. But even pharmacy students recognize the importance of having a well-rounded knowledge of the industry. “I figured as a pharmacist, I might be getting questions about it , so I almost felt obligated to take this class,” said first-year pharmacy student Sarah Harris.
Those in Michigan’s medical cannabis industry are also excited about UM’s new cannabis course. They’ll have the chance to connect directly with students about the issues facing the industry now and going forward. And so will state politicians working on cannabis legislation. State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), for example, plans to give a guest lecture in March.