You Can Now Study Medicinal Weed In New Zealand

MH Building, Auckland University of Technology South Campus. Photo: Shutterstock

As of next month students will be able to learn how to cultivate, extract and produce medicinal-grade cannabis products.

One of New Zealand’s leading universities will soon become the first in the country to offer a postgraduate course in medicinal cannabis.

As of next month, when the second semester of study commences on July 20, students at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) will be given the option to enrol in “The Science of Medicinal Cannabis”: a course aiming to teach the practical and theoretical skills needed to work in the rapidly developing marijuana industry.

Areas of study will include the history of medicinal cannabis, botanical aspects such as breeding, and extraction methods as well as delivery systems and dosing. Students will learn how to cultivate medical-grade cannabis, how to analyse different cannabinoids, and how to formulate medicinal cannabis products.

“This introductory course will equip students with advanced knowledge in a range of areas of relevance to the cultivation and use of medicinal cannabis,” Dr Ali Seyfoddin, course leader and senior lecturer in drug delivery, told VICE via email—suggesting that the course is essentially a Cannabis 101 for anyone interested in entering the field.

“A new industry is being formed around medicinal cannabis,” he said. “Education is an essential part of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis scheme and the industry demand for a skilled workforce has motivated us to introduce this paper in the current year.”

Dr Seyfoddin noted there will be theory and practical components to the course, and further added that “from next year we will have a range of undergraduate and postgraduate specialised courses on a variety of cannabis related subjects.”

Medicinal cannabis is already legal in New Zealand, subject to patients meeting strict criteria and receiving a prescription from a specialist doctor, or case-by-case approval from the Minister of Health. The New Zealand Medical Association also supports having evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies of medical cannabis, and in August 2018 Hikurangi Cannabis became the first local company to be issued a license to cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.

Since the passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act in December 2018, terminally ill patients also have a legal defence against prosecution for possessing and consuming cannabis.