A new Science of Cannabis program is being launched by McMaster University – one of the first post-secondary programs in the country focused on the scientific study of cannabis and its therapeutic applications, risks and harms.

The program is being launched by McMaster University Continuing Education in partnership with the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research and the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

The program offers an evidence-based approach to understanding the science behind the substance. As a three-course academic certificate of completion, the program can be taken entirely online and will be available to interested persons working in the health, education, public service, and social and community services sectors across the country.

The program is developed by James MacKillop, holder of the Peter Boris Chair in Addictions Research, director of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, and director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research. He is looking forward to sharing current research with participants.

"This program really takes advantage of a lot of faculty expertise," said MacKillop. "Students are going to have first-hand exposure to all different avenues of cannabis research that are being pursued within our centres."

To combat abundant misinformation about the substance, the Science of Cannabis program addresses the need for high-quality education in the field and provides students with the knowledge to separate fact from fiction.

Lorraine Carter, director of McMaster Continuing Education, believes there is enthusiasm for the topic across a variety of sectors.

"Our goal is to offer programming that aligns with industry trends and provides skill development for working professionals," said Carter.

"We know the scientific study of cannabis is something that individuals from physicians to social workers to first responders and others will be interested in. The program will help demonstrate how cannabis research interacts with fields such as addictions, mental health and public policy."

The first course, Fundamentals of Cannabis Science, will start in May 2019 and will provide a broad overview of what is known about cannabis including: the constituents of the plant, the various types of cannabis people use, pharmacology and routes of administration, effects on the body, policy in Canada, potential risks and harms, and possible therapeutic benefits.

The first course will be instructed by Michael Amlung, assistant professor of Psychiatry at McMaster University and member of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research.

More information about the Science of Cannabis program,  is found at mcmastercce.ca/the-science-of-cannabis-program. McMaster Continuing Education also offers professional programming in addictions studies, health & social services, and applied clinical research. Information may be found at mcmastercce.ca.