The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College in northern Israel is offering a bachelor’s degree with a major in medical cannabis, the online magazine Cannabis (Hebrew) first reported on Monday.
The college, known in Hebrew as Emek Yezreel College and home to some 5,000 students, will be offering the undergraduate degree in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to a promotional page of the program (Hebrew).
Students in the program, part of the Behavioral Sciences Department, are set to delve into a number of key aspects: medical cannabis growth, the botany and biology of medical cannabis, product medicine and pharmacology, the economics of medical cannabis, global and local medical cannabis markets, and legal regulations.
The program will be led by Dr. Efrat Barel, a lecturer and researcher at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College’ Department of Psychology.
The goal of the program, wrote Dr. Barel on the promotional page, “is to prepare our graduates for these new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while academizing the field.”
“The extensive learning base will enable our graduates to understand the entire process chain [of medical cannabis] and their integration into the field will have a unique added value to the industry,” she added.
Dr. Barel told the magazine Cannabis that over the past several years, medical cannabis has been “gaining momentum in Israel and around the world, garnering interest among researchers in the fields of medicine, industry, technology and business entrepreneurship.”
Alongside this interest, there are a number of “social, legal, and ethical questions surrounding the use” of medical cannabis, she told the magazine.
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“The industry requires professionals and experts such as farmers, production engineers, chemists, and public relations specialists, but it is also creating opportunities for new roles such as project managers, treatment coordinators and research coordinators,” she said.
Israel is an established world leader in medical cannabis R&D due to the pioneering work of Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Raphael Mechoulam. In 1964, the renown organic chemist was the first researcher to identify cannabis’ THC compound, the chemical known for causing a “high,” laying the foundation for scientific research on cannabis and its use in modern medicine. In the years since, Israel became among the few countries with a government-sponsored medical cannabis program, allowing for medical research of the effects of cannabis.
Earlier this year, the Israeli government gave its long-awaited approval for the medical cannabis export law, paving the way for the country to become a leading medical cannabis exporter and participant in a thriving sector that is expected to soar to $33 billion by 2022.
According to Israeli government research, medical cannabis exports are set to bring in an estimated $1 billion in revenue per year.
Max Stern Yezreel Valley College’s President Professor Yitzhak Harpaz told Cannabis magazine: “The cannabis industry today is what the cybersecurity industry was 10 years ago. Israel needs this industry as well and can lead in it. This industry is already characterized by quite a few new ventures and technologies, and it is already clear that its economic potential can reach tens of billions of dollars.”
“We are proud to be the first [academic institutions] to develop an academic specialization in medical cannabis. In light of the significant impact that this industry will have on the Israeli economy in the coming years, there is a great need for skilled professionals to enter the field of medical cannabis and take it forward.”