Sharing cutting-edge Research: Bringing Commonsense Cannabis Education to the Masses
Since early 2014 Professor Bryan, also a professor of psychology and neuroscience, and Professor Kent Hutchison have pioneered new methods of studying the health impacts of cannabis, using their mobile pharmacology lab (i.e a white van which travels to subject homes to conduct studies). They currently have several research projects underway exploring the impacts of cannabis and pain, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and few other conditions.
“People are hungry for knowledge,” stated Kent Hutchison a psychology professor and cannabis researcher in CU Boulder’s CHANGE Lab. “They are not getting this information from health care providers or public health officials—they are getting it from the internet, social media and other unreliable sources. Legalization has led to unprecedented access to cannabis, a projected $60 billion industry by 2025, and one of the fastest growing job sectors in the economy. Yet even today there is very little evidence-based information out there for people wanting to weigh the pros and cons.”
To fill this educational gap, Hutchison has teamed up with the global online learning platform Coursera to launch a first-of-its kind educational series “ Medical Cannabis: Health Effects of THC and CBD.”
The new online program, that launched in June of 2019, is known as a Specialization and is intended for clinicians, cannabis industry professionals, patients and family members. The Coursera specialization consists of four courses, each four weeks long with an expectation of 3-5 hours of work per week. Assignments include going to a dispensary to ask questions about quality control and asking a physician what they know about THC and CBD. This course will cover the plant’s history and chemical make-up, as well as the latest research on its health impacts and advice – like beginning with a lower dose of THC and then slowly increasing it if needed- on how to reduce side-effects while maximizing health benefits. Students can move through this course at their own pace. Hutchison included readings and guest interviews with scientists and health professionals. The aim is to help answer questions practitioners have such as:
How can marijuana really help patients that suffer from cancer, insomnia, chronic pain or seizure disorders?
What is the difference between THC and CBD?
Which strains are best for particular conditions?
How does one consume with a reduced risk and a more beneficial outcome?
For those who are serious about wanting to earn a certificate, you must complete the application and subscribe for $49 a month until the course is completed and all work is submitted for grading. The specialization will also be included in the CU on Coursera program, which will allow students, faculty and staff to earn and complete the certificate for free!
“This platform enables us to reach audiences that may not be able to come to CU Boulder or who do not have an interest in academic credits, but still show much interest in this topic,” stated Christopher Haynes. Haynes is the associate director for learning experience and design at CU. He notes that popular courses on Coursera can draw tens of thousands of students.
“They are simply trying to help people avoid the common situation of taking too much and having a “bad” reaction. You get the full unbiased spectrum on cannabis and can come out with your own opinions on whether it might be right for you, your patient or your loved one,” stated Jessica LeBlanc, one of Hutchison’s former students.
Hutchison hopes to see everyone from bud-tenders to doctors earn the specialization and display their certification proudly.