Delivering Excellence in Lifelong Learning
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The Science of Cannabis

Separate fact from fiction.

A collaborative program involving the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research, and McMaster Continuing Education

Course Descriptions


Participants will be required to successfully complete the three courses in the program in order to receive a Certificate of Professional Learning. The courses will be offered in an online format.

Courses will use a combination of expert talks, experiential learning activities (i.e., case studies, facilitated group discussions, group work), and other methods that support the learning of professionals interested in learning about the science of cannabis.

Emerging trends and research will be discussed to aid in the learning process and ensure that course content is current and relevant.

Fundamentals of Cannabis Science (3 units)

This course will provide students with an essential grounding in the science of cannabis. The course will start with a historical context for the use (and misuse) of cannabis in Canada and around the world.

The second focus will be on the nature of the genus Cannabis, its species, and its numerous constituents. A particular emphasis will be placed on delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two most commonly studied cannabinoids.

As cannabis is a psychoactive drug, the third focus will be on its effects in the brain. 

Therapeutic Applications of Cannabis (3 units)

Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia, but the evidence supporting (and contradicting) its many applications has only emerged in the last few decades. Furthermore, medical use of cannabis in Canada came to exist from outside the typical protocols in medicine.

Fundamentally, this course will provide a grounding in the principles of evidence-based medicine and apply those principles to medical cannabis. This will include an extended introduction into the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations) approach. In addition, the course will systematically examine the evidence for using cannabis for treating pain, spasticity, nausea, sleep, and psychiatric disorders, such as autism, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.

Finally, the course will review promising future directions in medicinal cannabis, including both novel cannabinoid medicines and novel treatment applications. 

Risks and Harms of Cannabis (3 units)

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that is established to have a variety of risks and harms. This course will review the strength of evidence behind the different risks associated.

Priority topics are impairment leading to accidents; cannabis misuse/cannabis use disorder; associations with anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia; effects of cannabis on cognition and brain development; and adverse consequences for lung health.

Finally, the course will review guidelines for reducing risk when consuming cannabis and evidence-based practices in the treatment of cannabis use disorder.