While 30 states now allow the use of medical marijuana healthcare providers, researchers and industry professionals have few credible, evidence-based educational options to learn about the health benefits and risks of cannabis in appropriate clinical settings to treat chronic pain and other conditions such as multiple sclerosis spasticity or epileptic seizures.  To address this need, the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania created what it says is the nation's first—and only—university-based, graduate-level certificates in cannabis education for healthcare and industry professionals. This fall, the Lambert Center will launch graduate certificates in Cannabis Medicine and Cannabinoid Pharmacology, and in 2019, will add the Cannabinoid Chemistry and Toxicology Graduate Certificate.

Until recently, prescriptions for cannabis had not been written since 1937, when medical marijuana was made illegal. That means most practicing medical professionals only learned about the drug's abuse potential and little about its clinical applications. It was in the 1980s that scientists began to clarify the body's endocannabinoid system, which provides our current understanding of how cannabinoids may work in the treatment of various diseases.

Still, many medical professionals today are hard-pressed to answer patient questions about the efficacy of cannabis products and the associated pros and cons, and Jefferson's new programs promise to fill the gap.

The Cannabis Medicine Certificate will target clinicians who want a higher level of knowledge about safe and appropriate medicinal cannabis to incorporate into their practices.  Pharmacological and pathologic concepts and current treatments of diseases for which cannabinoid compounds have been demonstrated to be therapeutic will be covered and supplemented with peer-reviewed research data on cannabis therapy as an adjunct or replacement for conventional therapy.  The program will also include a comprehensive review of the social, political and cultural landscape in which the current debates occur.

The Cannabinoid Pharmacology Certificate, for scientists and researchers, will explore the ways cannabis affects the human body as well as how the body metabolizes and excretes cannabis and cannabinoids.

The Cannabinoid Chemistry and Toxicology Certificate will give those working in regulation of the legal cannabis industry, as well as scientists, an understanding of cannabis botany and propagation, products and biological samples and principles of quality control for cannabis containing products.

All three certificate programs are offered in partnership with the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE) at the Fredric Rieders Family Foundation, which has been at the forefront of the forensic community, providing novel developments in research, training and education in the forensic sciences for more than 20 years.

Each year-long certificate program offers four three-credit academic courses focused on evidence-based medicine. Ten of the twelve graduate courses will be offered entirely online.  The Cannabinoid Chemistry and Toxicology Certificate requires two hybrid courses that include both in-person didactics and laboratory exercises at CSFRE's state-of-the-art research and teaching facility in Willow Grove, Pa.

The cannabis certificates are part of several new certificate programs from Jefferson's Institute of Emerging Health Professions, which endeavors to provide innovative and unique education and training to fill future career, training and certification gaps in healthcare practice and delivery.

More information about the certificate programs is available at Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis & Hemp.Hemp .