As New Zealand approaches its cannabis referendum, citizens will now be able to study cannabis at university.
Postgraduate students at the Auckland University of Technology will now be able to take a course in the Science of Medicinal Cannabis as of June 20th.
The course will include theory and practical components and has been described by Dr Ali Seyfoddin, the course leader and senior lecturer in drug delivery, as a "Cannabis 101" course.
"Education is an important component of New Zealand's medicinal cannabis scheme and it's essential that research and education providers provide courses for those wishing to enter the industry," Dr. Seyfoddin stated.
"We have ongoing research on medicinal cannabis cultivation, extraction, and formulation which will inform much of the course's content. A new industry is being rapidly formed around medicinal cannabis in New Zealand," he told Newshub.
"With legislation already in place, companies are setting up their cultivation and processing sites. As a public university, we are responding to industry needs in preparing graduates who have acquired the required skills in a reliable educational system."
Currently, the cannabis course is limited to postgraduate students as it requires a "relevant proficiency in science" to participate in the pot-centric program. Though the course isn't relegated entirely to science, but rather, it will cover the history of cannabis in New Zealand, the relevant legislation surrounding the plant, and how the plant is cultivated, processed, extracted, and how cannabis-derived medicines are formulated.
While New Zealand is beginning to loosen all COVID-19 related restrictions, given that the country has had no new outbreaks of the virus, there is still the possibility that the course will be run online should the number of infections begin to climb in the coming week.
Chris Fowlie, the CEO of the Auckland University of Technology's research partner ZeaCann, emphasizes the importance of making New Zealanders informed on the topic of cannabis, particularly in the instance that the plant is made legal this year.
"This course will teach the skills needed to work in the field. Hundreds of new jobs are expected to be created, with the potential for medicinal cannabis exports to rival those of wine or wool," Mr. Fowlie says.
"We're excited to help AUT deliver this course as part of our ongoing research partnership."
In just two months, New Zealanders are scheduled to vote in the September 2020 Cannabis referendum, in which citizens will decide whether recreational cannabis should be legalized. While the referendum is non-binding, it's likely the government will follow through on the results of the referendum, given how beneficial cannabis has been to the U.S. economy.
Should the referendum go ahead, cannabis would become legal for those over the age of 21 years old.
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