Israeli college to offer degree specializing in medical cannabis

‘The cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago – Israel needs and can lead this industry, too' – college president Prof. Itzhak Harpaz.

July 8, 2019 19:19
2 minute read.
Employee tends to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in nort

Employee tends to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

An academic college in the North will become the first in the country to offer an undergraduate degree with a specialization in medical cannabis.

The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, home to approximately 5,000 students and located between Afula and Nazareth, announced on Monday that new students will be able to pursue a B.A. in Behavioral Sciences with a specialization in medical cannabis, enabling graduates to play a role in one of Israel’s “most prosperous industries.”

Courses offered in the program that will commence during the next academic year will focus on the growth and production of medical cannabis, medicine, pharmacology, economics and law.

“The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while academizing the field,” said Dr. Efrat Barel, head of the new program. “The extensive educational base will enable graduates to understand all required aspects, and their integration into the workforce will bring added value to the sector.”

In the third year of studies, students will also be provided with hands-on experience in cannabis farms and production plants, and attend seminars hosted by the research divisions of medical cannabis pharma companies and university research laboratories.

“The cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago,” said Yezreel Valley College President Prof. Itzhak Harpaz. “Israel needs and can lead this industry, too. This industry is already characterized by many new ventures and technologies, and it is already clear that its economic potential can reach tens of billions of dollars. We are proud to be the first to develop an academic specialization in the field of medical cannabis.”

In January, the government approved exports of Israeli-grown medical cannabis to the worldwide legal market, estimated to be worth $28 billion by 2024. It estimated that the state could earn between NIS 1 billion and NIS 4 billion ($1.09b.) per year from exports. Licenses will be exclusively granted by the Health Ministry, and will require police approval.

“Considering the significant impact that this industry will have on the Israeli economy in the coming years, skilled professionals are required to enter the field of medical cannabis and progress alongside it,” Harpaz said.

Steps to facilitate exports have been followed by domestic reforms announced by the Health Ministry in recent months, including enabling patients with certain medical conditions to receive medical cannabis by prescription rather than requiring Health Ministry permission, as well as plans to establish an inter-ministerial committee to supervise the pricing of cannabis products.

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