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One Pennsylvania university has established the first and only university-based program in the U.S. issuing certificates in cannabis education for health-care professionals.

Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia created the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp to instruct healthcare providers, researchers and industry professionals about the health benefits and risks of cannabis and its efficacy in treating chronic pain and other conditions.

The center offers graduate certificates in Cannabis Medicine and Cannabinoid Pharmacology and Cannabinoid Chemistry and Toxicology Graduate Certificates. Each year-long certificate program offers four three-credit graduate level academic courses focused on evidence-based medicine.

Dr. Charles Pollack Jr., an emergency medicine specialist and director of the Lambert Center, said students can complete the master's program in one year or at their own pace. Pollack told WeedMaps News that the first class launched in autumn 2018 included 40 students, mostly clinicians and scientists.

Pollack said the center aims to fill a knowledge gap. Since it opened in 2016, the center has offered continuing education courses to scientists and healthcare professionals. The Lambert Center launched graduate level courses two years after
Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana.

Pollack said cannabis' role in drug abuse has been taught in medical schools for many years. However, he said, one reason why cannabis has not been studied as a therapeutic drug in medical school curriculum is “It's hard to teach about a therapy if the therapy hasn't been proven. One of our missions is research. The majority of medical, nursing and pharmacy students will be working in states where cannabis is legal. They need to be aware both of its therapeutic use and its potential for abuse. They need to understand there's still a lot we need to know about this plant.”

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