A college in Israel will soon offer an undergraduate degree in medical cannabis, becoming the first institution in the country to offer such a program.
The school, Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, made the announcement Monday, saying that incoming students will be able to earn a bachelor of arts degree in behavioral sciences with a specialization in medicinal marijuana.
Israel has a long, meaningful history with cannabis. The Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam is recognized as one of the first individuals to both isolate the psychoactive property of marijuana and realize its potential therapeutic benefit. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since the 1990s, and in the spring, the Israeli government decriminalized pot, though it remains illegal. And with its hospitable climate, Israel is poised to emerge as one of the leaders in the burgeoning cannabis industry; the Los Angeles Times reported in May that the country has “ dedicated thousands of acres and millions of dollars to cultivating the plant under controlled conditions” and “nearly 100 start-ups producing cannabis-based medicines and other products.”
Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, which is located in the Jezreel Valley of Israel and boasts an enrollment of a little more than 5,000 students, said its newly established program will be open in the next academic year.
“The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while academizing the field,” said the head of the program, Dr. Efrat Barel, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “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.”
Itzhak Harpaz, the president of Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, said that the “cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago.”
“Israel needs and can lead this industry, too,” Harpaz said. “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.”
Such degrees are likely to become more common, as the number of countries, cities and states in America with legal marijuana — be it recreational or medicinal — continues to multiply. Last month, the University of Maryland announced that it would introduce a new masters degree program aimed at educating students on the science and regulation of medical cannabis, making it the first graduate program in the United States dedicated to the field.