Ole Miss adds master’s degree in medical marijuana
The cannabis industry continues to expand, creating thousands of jobs every year. Sensing the need for accredited education on the plant, colleges across the country have begun to offer cannabis-centric programs. One major institute of higher learning in the South is taking things a step further, introducing a master’s degree in medical marijuana.
The University of Mississippi, more commonly known as Ole Miss, will begin offering the two-year graduate program in the fall of 2024. The school wanted to provide a stepping stone for people hoping to advance their careers or break into the evolving cannabis or supplements space. Since there is a crossover between the two fields, officials at Ole Miss wanted to appeal to a broader demographic of potential students.
The university’s School of Pharmacy oversees the online coursework and will focus on cannabis as well as dietary supplements. The curriculum touches on history, pharmacology, product formulation, law, plant genomics, and other adjacent topics.
“Since it’s entirely online, we do expect that we will have students that are partially or fully employed, particularly maybe even already fully employed in the industry, but they want to move ahead,” said David Colby, director of online graduate programs in the Ole Miss biomedical sciences department, in an interview with the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger.
“So perhaps they’re operating in an entry-level position, and they want to move into something with regulatory affairs or something with formulation and manufacturing or look at more analytical chemistry or R&D (research and development).”
While people may not think of Mississippi as a bastion of weed, Ole Miss has a long history of cannabis research on campus. For over half a century, the school was the sole marijuana provider for scientific research in the U.S. Despite quality concerns, Ole Miss helped dozens of studies come to fruition.
Cannabis electives at the university tend to fill quickly, and school officials expect high demand for the new master’s program. Medical marijuana sales began earlier this year in The Magnolia State, seeing robust numbers despite the limited nature of the program.
As the cannabis industry grows, the need for skilled professionals increases. Adding education on the plant to pharmacy and medical school curricula is especially needed to bridge the gap for patients seeking relief.