ST. LOUIS — Wednesday was 4-20. Every year on that date, marijuana advocates celebrate the plant and push for legalization. Meanwhile, Saint Louis University continues to make strides in producing graduates who are work-force ready.
This includes a push to get medical workers to go back to school to learn about cannabis. The focus is on doctors, nurses and even social workers and police. With more patients taking advantage of medical marijuana, SLU wants to make sure professionals are better trained on the use and effects of cannabis.
Saint Louis University is gearing up to welcome an additional 100 students this summer for the school's cannabis science undergraduate program.
"We’re bringing the stigma away from this plant…But we’re also legitimizing the cannabis industry,” said Director Stacy Godlewski.
The program has taken off since 2020 with hundreds of students served and now getting jobs.
Dispensary owner Chris Chesley benefits from a trained workforce.
"Learning about the terpenes, the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, there's a lot to know… It's real business. It's real science and there's real patients that need a lot of help,” Chesleysaid.
That's why SLU is now setting its sights on medical workers and professionals who already have degrees.
"We have a lot of folks with various ailments who go to their doctor and they’re being treated with medicine and they’re also saying 'I use medical cannabis to treat my symptoms as well' so doctors aren't readily versed on how to speak to that,” Godlewski said.
Some 30 grad students are now studying cannabis there so they can get a graduate certificate. That program started in January.
Dr. Glenn Miller sees the benefit.
"The educational component becomes very important…It's like taking 5 Tylenols for a headache. If you use the wrong things, it can make it worse…We can tailor protocols per what medical condition they're dealing with,” Miller said.
As marijuana advocates work to push recreational use, SLU is expecting even more interest in higher learning.
"Our wheels are turning. We know that we’re probably going to go legal. We’re all going to go legal at some point so we have to be thinking how were going to pivot to that,” Godlewski added.
Some 85 students are expected to graduate from SLU's undergrad program next month. Both the undergrad and graduate cannabis programs are completely virtual.