Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Cannabis Science: Therapeutics, Product Design, and Quality Assurance

Overview


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Credits per Trimester
3-6
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Total Credits
15
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Duration
3 Trimesters
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Trimester of Entry
Fall, Spring
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Format
Online

COVID-19 PANDEMIC UPDATE: This program is enrolling students for the Spring 2021 Trimester. This program is offered completely online. All courses are offered online. Students are not required to come to campus for any course in any trimester.

The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Cannabis Science: Therapeutics, Product Design, and Quality Assurance is one of the few graduate programs in the U.S. to focus on cannabis and to support this rapidly growing industry. The program educates students about cannabis-based products with an emphasis on health effects, safety, formulation, and quality assurance. The program addresses CBD-dominant hemp-based dietary supplements and wellness products, as well as THC-dominant medical and recreational marijuana. The program is 15 credits, can be completed in 1 year, and is delivered fully online.

Your journey starts here. Programs now enrolling for Spring 2021.

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Audience


This program is designed for individuals who wish to approach the cannabis field through the primary lenses of herbal medicine and health and wellness. It is designed for individuals who wish to promote evidence-informed, safe, and responsible use of high-quality cannabis-based products, especially those with holistic approach and a focus on a health promotion model rather than a disease management model. The program is ideal for career starters and those seeking an initial career in the cannabis industry or looking to expand their job options within the field. The program is also designed for integrative health and conventional practitioners interested in learning about cannabis in order to be informed for their clients.

Program Description


The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Cannabis Science: Therapeutics, Product Design, and Quality Assurance educates students about cannabis-based products with an emphasis on health effects, safety, formulation, and quality assurance. The program integrates the traditional herbal medicine knowledge and evidence-informed cannabis research needed to develop innovative strategies for commercializing safe and effective cannabis products. Unique to this program, students will investigate ways to combine cannabis with other herbs to optimize health benefits and reduce risks.

The program provides education in the following areas:

  • Foundational knowledge of the endocannabinoid system
  • Cannabis research to inform appropriate therapeutic recommendations and to evaluate and design commercial products
  • CBD-dominant hemp-based dietary supplements and wellness products and THC-dominant medical and recreational marijuana
  • Optimizing health benefits and reducing risk combining herbal medicine and cannabis
  • Herbal Medicine dispensary practices, quality assurance, and industry standards that support appropriate access to high-quality and safe cannabis-based products

This is a non-experiential program. There are no internships, laboratories, field work, or hands on work with cannabis as part of this curriculum and program.

The cannabis field can be approached and viewed through a variety of lenses. MUIH’s program approaches cannabis through two primary lenses: 1) health and wellness, and 2) herbal medicine.

Health and Wellness Focus

MUIH’s program and courses emphasize non-medical, CBD-dominant types of cannabis. These federally legal, non-psychoactive forms of cannabis are increasingly incorporated into health and wellness models of care. Such models are less focused on disease management and more focused on supporting health-positive constructs such as resilience and well-being. This health and wellness focus is consistent throughout all of MUIH’s programs and distinguishes them from more conventional healthcare programs. The program also considers to a lesser extent, medical cannabis, which is used within a conventional healthcare model to help treat and manage disease.

Herbal Medicine Focus

Cannabis is discussed within the broad context of herbal medicine as a whole. Two key aspects of traditional herbal medicine are incorporated into the program. First, herbs are not typically used alone and are mostly used as part of combination formulas. While cannabis may be the central herb addressed in this program, there will be a continual discussion and consideration of other herbs that can be combined to potentially enhance benefits and reduce risk. Second, herbal medicine emphasizes different categories of herbs and clinical approaches for “compensation” (support during illness and dysfunction) and “enhancement” (support for building and maintaining healthy function). This offers an additional lens through which to view cannabis and provides further contrast between MUIH’s health and wellness model and conventional medical models.

The program builds on MUIH’s 20 years of experience offering herbal medicine programs. It is one of the very few accredited universities in the U.S. to offer graduate programs in the field. MUIH has delivered master’s programs in herbal medicine since 2002, when it launched the first master’s degree in herbal medicine in the United States. The faculty in herbal medicine understand cannabis as one of many therapeutic plants and this perspective will permeate all aspects of the program. The program faculty are uniquely qualified to discuss cannabis within the framework of herbal medicine principles and practices, something quite distinct from a conventional medical or pharmaceutical perspective.

The program applies theory to practice in its herbal medicine dispensary. MUIH has operated an herbal medicine dispensary since 2002. It has served as an educational setting for herbal medicine dispensary practices and quality assurance while providing herbal products to healthcare professionals, herbal medicine students, and the general public. The standards and practices from its herbal medicine dispensary, generalizable to working with a range of herbs for various health and wellness purposes in various settings, are leveraged to inform the program and its courses. This dispensary does not work with cannabis products and it is not a medical cannabis dispensary. The courses in this program emphasize herbal dispensary practices and quality assurance for federally legal, non-psychoactive, CBD-dominant cannabis products and herbal products in general.

The program includes a scientific exploration of two distinct sets of cannabis-based products. The first group is the CBD-dominant hemp-based products that are not psychoactive, are legal in all fifty U.S. states, and are being integrated increasingly into the dietary supplement industry. The second set of products are medical and recreational THC-dominant cannabis products that are psychoactive, regulated more strictly than hemp-based products, and mostly available through a limited number of licensed dispensaries. The program examines the science behind cannabis and explores the evidence for therapeutic benefits and risks, and considerations in product design for both types of cannabis-based products. Discussion of dispensary practices and quality assurance emphasize CBD-dominant hemp-based products.

With regards to CBD-dominant hemp-based products, students including complementary and integrative health (CIH) practitioners will learn how to assess products on the market and safely and appropriately recommend those that are well-designed and meet quality control standards. Students interested in product design or other work in the dietary supplement industry, will learn the principles of formulation and quality assurance for purposes of evaluating existing products and product development.

Recommending THC-dominant cannabis products does not fall within the scope of practice for most CIH practitioners; however, many clients are consuming or considering consuming THC-dominant products. It is important that CIH practitioners be well informed about quality, safety, and effectiveness of THC-dominant cannabis products in order to identify safety concerns as well as refer to other clinicians when appropriate. Students interested in working in licensed dispensaries will also benefit from this education as it provides them with the tools to evaluate retail products, build general quality control practices into the dispensary workflow, and inform customers about available products in an ethical and responsible fashion.

This program is designed to serve students with and without a background in science or medicine. Courses are designed to scaffold learning, knowledge, and skills in ways that meet students’ prior educational levels in the sciences. Courses and instruction are also designed to respect and incorporate students’ workplace experiences, and to build upon them and enrich the course for others. This is an intentional design element for all of MUIH’s programs, in which pre-requisite knowledge, skills, and courses are built into the first-year curriculum of all programs, and with very few exceptions no prerequisite knowledge or credentials in the field are required for admission to MUIH’s programs. MUIH’s other science-based graduate programs in herbal medicine routinely admit new students with little to no experience in these fields, and the prerequisite science knowledge and skills are imparted through specific courses or basic concepts intentionally woven through the curriculum. This design element is consistent to MUIH’s overall philosophy of curriculum design.

Through this graduate-level academic program students will also gain the foundational skills that employers seek and that can establish them as leaders in their field, and which are not typically provided by non-credit training programs. This includes skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and research literacy.

Read about MUIH’s cannabis science program in the news:
MUIH Announces New Cannabis Science Program
Baltimore Business Journal
Ganjapreneur

Learning Outcomes


Upon completion of the program graduates will be able to:

  • Explain the endocannabinoid system and its role in the body’s response to cannabis and other medicinal plants.
  • Apply foundational knowledge of herbal pharmacology, clinical research, and traditional use to design and evaluate safe and effective cannabis-containing herbal supplements that support health and well-being.
  • Utilize pharmacological and clinical research on cannabis to inform safe and effective therapeutic choices.
  • Apply an ethical framework, along with regulatory and industry standards, to provide cannabis education and access to high-quality cannabis products in dispensaries and other retail environments.
  • Apply best practices in quality assurance to develop quality control practices and assess cannabis-based products.

Curriculum


Required Courses

The program consists of 15 credits of the following required courses:

  • HRB610 The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids (3 cr)
  • HRB611 Cannabis Therapeutics (3 cr)
  • HRB612 Cannabis and Herbal Dispensary Practices (3 cr)
  • HRB613 Formulating Herbal Products using Cannabis (3 cr)
  • HRB614 Quality Assurance in Cannabis and Herbal Products (3 cr)
  • MUIH550 Academic Research and Scholarship (0 cr)

Course Descriptions

HRB610 The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids (3 cr)

This course investigates how the endocannabinoid system provides a foundation for rational cannabis therapeutics and formulation. Students learn the role and mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system in regulating biological functions in health and disease. They gain an understanding of the basic components of the endocannabinoid system including different types of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. The course explores endogenous cannabinoids made by the body as well as the modulatory effects of phytocannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD) from cannabis and other medicinal plants.

HRB611 Cannabis Therapeutics (3 cr)

This course identifies balanced research summaries for pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical research on cannabis with attention to different cannabis chemotypes and phytochemicals. Students learn to describe the evidence base for cannabis as a therapeutic intervention for disease and illness and as a tool for promoting health and well-being. They examine evidence and research gaps regarding both benefits and risks of cannabis use, and utilize current evidence to identify safe and effective cannabis-based therapies and inform decision making in case studies. 

HRB612 Cannabis and Herbal Dispensary Practices (3 cr)

This course addresses federally legal CBD-dominant cannabis products within the context of a good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant herbal product dispensary. Students learn best practices in herbal dispensary operations. Grounded in the range of federal and state laws, students learn to use an ethical and legal framework to communicate professionally about cannabis and other medicinal plants, and to help individuals identify preferred products.  (Cannabis-specific discussion will focus on federally legal CBD-dominant products. This is a non-experiential course; there is no hands-on work with cannabis as part of this curriculum.)

HRB613 Formulating Herbal Products using Cannabis (3 cr)

This course explores the opportunities for combining cannabis with other medicinal plants to optimize cannabis’ benefits and reduce risks. It reviews pharmacological, toxicological and clinical research as well as the traditional use of candidate medicinal plants. Students apply this information to evaluate cannabis-containing herbal products already on the market as well as to design new products. They learn to formulate a cannabis-containing multi-herb blend for a specific purpose and to explain the rationale behind the product. Emphasis is placed on designing CBD-dominant, hemp-based dietary supplements and wellness products. (This is a non-experiential course; there is no hands-on work with cannabis as part of this curriculum.)

HRB614 Quality Assurance in Cannabis and Herbal Products (3 cr)

This course prepares students to identify and evaluate the authenticity and quality of cannabis raw material from federally legal types of cannabis and other medicinal plants.I Students learn how to interpret assays and specification sheets required to produce good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant products. They also learn how to apply procedures associated with GMP compliant manufacturing and herbal dispensary function to ensure the purity, strength, composition and to prevent adulteration of products. (Cannabis-specific discussion will focus on federally legal CBD-dominant products. This is a non-experiential course; there is no hands-on work with cannabis as part of this curriculum.)

MUIH550 Academic Research and Scholarship (0 cr)

This course is designed to prepare students to engage in graduate-level research and scholarship with a focus on the utilization of resources available at or through MUIH’s Sherman Cohn Library. Modules cover the Association of College and Research Libraries information literacy threshold concepts in higher education. These concepts are: Scholarship as Conversation, Research as Inquiry, Authority is Constructed and Contextual, Information Creation as a Process, Searching as Strategic Exploration, and Information Has Value.

Career Opportunities


The cannabis industry is made up of three fields – 1) medical marijuana, 2) recreational marijuana, and 3) hemp-based, CBD-dominant cannabis. Each has experienced and is projected to have continued significant growth. The increase in use and sales of cannabis nationally is driving significant job growth in the field.

Legalization and Use

As of January 2020, medical and recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, medical marijuana only is legal in 22 states, and hemp is federally legal in all 50 states (1, 2). The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 24 million Americans above the age of 18 were users of marijuana, representing nearly 9% of the total population; marijuana use among the same group increased from 21% in 2002 to 30% in 2017 (3).

Overall Cannabis Industry Growth

New Frontier Data reports overall sales within the legalized U.S. cannabis industry, which includes both recreational and medical marijuana, were expected to reach $13.6 billion throughout 2019, a 32% increase over 2018 sales (4). Total combined U.S. legal sales are projected to continue to grow at an annual rate of 14%, reaching $30 billion in sales by 2025. Total legal recreational use sales are projected to grow 16% to $16.6 billion in sales by 2025. If the total U.S. cannabis market were to be legalized, Barclay’s (5) estimates the market could be worth $41 billion by 2028, and Cowen and Company estimates a market value of $80 billion by 2030 (6). Globally, Fortune Business Insights reports the cannabis market (including medical, recreational and hemp-based) was $10.6 billion in 2018 and projects it to reach $97.3 billion by the end of 2026, a 33% annual growth from 2019 to 2026 (7).

Medical and Recreational Marijuana Industry Growth

New Frontier Data projects combined U.S. sales of medical cannabis to grow 17% annually from $4.4 billion in 2018 to $13.1 billion in 2025 (4,8). In Maryland, sales doubled in the first year of legalization (2018-2019) and required a second round of business license applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, and processors to meet consumer demand (9). Globally, BDS Analytics projects sales of recreational marijuana at $83 billion and medical marijuana at $19 billion by 2027.

CBD Industry Growth

Significant consumer interest exists in hemp-based and CBD-containing cannabis supplements. Hemp-derived CBD is now available in general retail channels outside of licensed cannabis dispensaries, including online, drug stores, natural products, beauty, convenience, grocery and pet stores. Research firm Brightfield Group projects the U.S. CBD industry will outpace the marijuana market and reach $23.7 billion in sales by 2023 (10). BDS Analytics forecasts U.S. CBD sales to reach $20 billion by 2024, accounting for nearly 44% of the $45 billion total forecasted cannabinoid market (11). Hemp-based cannabis sales of CBD-based supplements grew 332% from 2018 to 2019, with over $52 million in 2019 sales, making hemp-based cannabis supplements the top selling herbal supplement in the U.S. market (12). Current herbal supplement manufacturers are increasingly embracing CBD based cannabis products. The percent of natural product manufacturers selling such products doubled in the first six months of 2019, with 75% of the industry planning on launching new CBD-based products over the next two years (13).

Cannabis Industry Job Growth

Marijuana Business Daily’s 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook estimates the number of full-time workers in the U.S. marijuana industry was between 130,000 and 160,000 in 2018, increased to 175,000 to 215,000 in 2019, and will reach 385,000 to 475,000 workers by 2023 (9). BDS Analytics and Arcview estimate as many as 630,000 cannabis jobs by 2025 (13). Leafly’s Cannabis Job Count report suggests that the cannabis industry is among the largest job creation engines in the U.S (14).

The career opportunities vary based on the segment of the market (medical vs. recreational vs. hemp-based cannabis). However, all three segments demand similar knowledge and skill sets that are basic to the world of herbal supplements. Nationally based cannabis-specific hiring firm Vangst provides a benchmarking salary guide for working in the cannabis industry and the requirements for employment in each state (15).

Careers that graduates of the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Cannabis Science: Therapeutics, Product Design, and Quality Assurance may be qualified for include:

  • Cannabis Jobs in Testing: Laboratory Analysts, Laboratory Technicians, Quality Control Inspector, and Marijuana Tester
  • Cannabis Jobs in Processing and Manufacturing: Extractor, Product Developer/Formulator, Marketing Lead, and Regulatory Specialist
  • Cannabis Jobs in Dispensaries and Retail: Budtender, Dispensary (or Store) Manager

References

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures. State Medical Marijuana Laws. Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  2. Interactive Marijuana Legislation Map. Cannabis Business Times. Retrieved from https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/page/marijuana-legislative-map-cbt
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHFFR2017/NSDUHFFR2017.pdf
  4. Hudock, C. (2019) S. Legal Cannabis Market Growth. New Frontier Data. Retrieved from: https://newfrontierdata.com/marijuana-insights/u-s-legal-cannabis-market-growth
  5. Sheetz, M. (2019) Barclays estimates US weed market would be $28 billion if legalized today, growing to $41 billion by 2028, CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/01/barclays-us-cannabis-market-28-billion-if-legalized-today.html
  6. Owusu, T. (2019) Cowen’s Cannabis Analyst Raises 2030 U.S. Market Forecast to $80 Billion. The Retrieved from: https://www.thestreet.com/investing/cowen-cannabis-analyst-raises-2030-us-market-forecast-to-80-billion-14828252
  7. Cannabis/Marijuana Market Size, Share and Industry Analysis By Type (Flowers/Buds and Concentrates), By Application (Medical, Recreational (Edibles and Topicals), and Industrial Hemp), and Regional Forecast 2019-2026. Fortune Business Insights. Retrieved from: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/cannabis-marijuana-market-100219
  8. Arcview Market Research. (2019) The Roadmap to a $57 Billion Worldwide Market [White Paper]. Retrieved from: https://bdsanalytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Roadmap-Exec-Summ.pdf
  9. Cowee, M. (2019) Chart: US cannabis employment to jump 34% in 2019 thanks to California, growth in new markets. Marijuana Business Daily. Retrieved from: https://mjbizdaily.com/us-cannabis-employees-increase-34-percent-2019
  10. Brightfield Group. (2019) US CBD Market to Grow 700% Through 2019 [Press Release]. Retrieved from: https://www.brightfieldgroup.com/press-releases/cbd-market-growth-2019
  11. BDS Analytics (2019) The Global Cannabinoids Market: Will CBD Overtake THC? [White Paper]. Retrieved from: https://bdsanalytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/BDS-Analytics-The-Global-Cannabinoids-Market-Will-CBD-Overtake-THC.pdf
  12. Smith T., et al. (2019) Herbal Supplement Sales in US Increase by 9.4% in 2018: Record growth driven by sales of CBD, mushrooms, and immune-health products. HerbGram. 23: 62-73. Retrieved from: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue123/files/HG123-HMR.pdf
  13. Parfitt, S. (2018) U.S. Marijuana Industry Jobs Estimated to Triple by 2025. com. Retrieved from: https://azmarijuana.com/marijuana-news/u-s-marijuana-industry-jobs-estimated-to-triple-by-2025
  14. Barcott, B. and Whitney, B. (2019) Special Report: Cannabis Jobs Count. Call it America’s hidden job boom. Leafly. Retrieved from: https://d3atagt0rnqk7k.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/01141121/CANNABIS-JOBS-REPORT-FINAL-2.27.191.pdf
  15. Cannabis Jobs Database. Retrieved from: https://vangst.com

Program Format & Schedule


Program Format

This program is offered in the online format. Click here to view MUIH’s definition of the online program format.

Program Schedule

For trimester start and end dates, see the Academic Calendar.

The schedule of courses for this program is shown below:

Trimester 1

MUIH550 Academic Research and Scholarship (0 cr)

HRB610 The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids (3 cr)

Trimester 2

HRB611 Cannabis Therapeutics (3 cr)

HRB612 Cannabis and Herbal Dispensary Practices (3 cr)

Trimester 3

HRB613 Formulating Herbal Products using Cannabis (3 cr)

HRB614 Quality Assurance in Cannabis and Herbal Products (3 cr)

Admission Requirements


Trimester of Entry: Fall, Spring
Application Priority Deadline: Application deadline by Trimester
General Requirements:
Program Specific Requirements: Complete Essay Questions in application:

  • Why have you chosen to apply to this program at MUIH?
  • How does the program relate to your future personal and professional goals?

Program Administration


Kathleen Warner, Ph.D.
Department Chair

Michael Tims, Ph.D.
Program Director, Herbal Product Design and Manufacture
Program Director, Cannabis Science: Therapeutics, Product Design and Quality Assurance

Rachel Voss, M.P.A.
Department Manager

Matthew Mazick
Academic Advisor

An MUIH education is not just for living, but for life.