College to Offer Israel’s First-ever Degree in Medical Marijuana

To start in the upcoming academic year, the program aims to train students for the emerging industry

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Greenhouse for growing medical cannabis in Givat Hen, Israel, 2019.
Greenhouse for growing medical cannabis in Givat Hen, Israel, 2019. Credit: Eyal Toueg

Israel’s emerging medical marijuana industry will soon be getting its own trained professionals thanks to the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, which announced this week it would offer Israel’s first bachelor’s degree in cannabis for medical uses.

The Galilee-based institution, which enrolls 5,200 students, said the specialization would be a part of its new degree program in behavioral sciences. The first students will begin taking classes in the upcoming academic year.

“The cannabis industry today is what the cybersecurity industry was 10 years ago,” said the president of Yezreel Valley College, Prof. Itzhak Harpaz. “Israel needs, and can lead, this industry, too. The industry is already characterized by many new ventures and technologies, and it’s already clear that its economic potential can reach the tens of billions of dollars.”

Israel has long been a leader in medical marijuana research and development, and a handful of companies have been serving the domestic market. But now the government has approved exports, and a host of new and older companies are eyeing the world market.

The college’s program will offer courses in the science of growing marijuana and manufacturing cannabis-based products, its medical applications, as well as the social, legal and business aspects of the emerging industry.

Third-year students will get hands-on experience at a cannabis farm as well as attend seminars by pharma companies involved in medical marijuana. Graduates will be prepared to take on jobs such as project managers, treatment coordinators and research coordinators.

“The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while turning it into a field of academic study,” said Efrat Barel, who is heading the new program. “[The program’s] broad academic base will enable graduates to understand every aspect of the field. Their joining the industry’s workforce will bring added value to the sector.”

Israel will not be the first country to offer such a degree. In the United States, Northern Michigan University offers an undergraduate degree in medicinal plant chemistry, and New Jersey’s Stockton University recently gave students the opportunity to minor in cannabis studies.

In Canada, which has emerged as a global medical marijuana center, McGill University in Montreal will offer a graduate degree program in cannabis production starting in January.

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