Higher Ed: Medical Cannabis Courses Are Now Available at US Universities

Posted in Articles, BioEducation, Uncategorized

Back in the day when I was going to graduate school in Madison, WI,  there was no such thing as medical Cannabis (although there was plenty of weed to go around).  But, as the line in that old Dylan song goes “the times they are a changin”

Late last month, the University of California-Davis announced that it would be joining Humboldt State University in offering undergraduate students a course entitled Physiology of Cannabis.  FYI, Humboldt State has been offering courses in medical Cannabis since 2012 (not surprising since the school is located in prime Cannabis cultivation territory).

According to UC-Davis officials the semester-long, three credit course will be aimed at biology students and will cover the endocannabinoid system, the effects of cannabinoids on the human body and the therapeutic value of Cannabis.

Likewise, Sonoma State University announced that it will be offering a one day symposium on March 11, 2017  to members of the healthcare industry in the Bay area. The symposium is entitled Medical Cannabis: A Clinical and it is intended as a workforce development course.  Nurses, physicians and pharmacists can get continuing education credit for the course. Topics that will be covered include the history of cannabis, an introduction to cannabinoids and terpenes, dosing and administration of cannabinoids, legal implication and other medical-related issues. The university is also planning a three day course on Cannabis regulatory issues later in the month.

While these courses are available, there is currently no undergraduate degree program in Cannabis science/medicine offered by any US university or college. That said, don’t be surprised if this major becomes a reality in States where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal.

Until next time…

Good Luck, Good Job Hunting and Happy Trails

How to Find a Job in the Legal Cannabis Industry

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

According to a recent report by the Cannabis website Leafly, America’s legal cannabis industry now supports more than 122,000 full-time jobs in 29 States and Washington DC. I

A recent article by Bruce Barcott entitled “How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry” offers some insights on the types of jobs that are available and how to land one.

He offered, like most industries the best way to land a job in the Cannabis industry is to network yourself into one. Also, working with a recruiting firm can be helpful.  Interestingly, recruiting firms and staffing companies that specialize in Cannabis jobs are popping up daily in many states where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal. However, before you take the plunge it is important to educate yourself to determine what is out there and whether or not you are a good fit for a Cannabis career.

So what do we know?  Most of the open jobs are in the Western states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona with a growing presence in Minnesota and Massachusetts. There are a smattering of jobs emerging in New York, Connecticut, Maryland  and Washington DC.  While 40 percent of open positions are specific to the Cannabis industry, roughly 60 are jobs that exist in other industries such as executive assistants, human resources specialists retail operations directors bookkeepers and staff accountants.That said, there are a number of Cannabis business operators who are looking for pharmaceutical sales representatives, or in horticulturalists from large commercial plant growing operations.

So question is: are there are any jobs in the Cannabis for the average Bio Job Blog reader?  The answer is YES!!!!!!  Here are a few examples: Laboratory chemist, operations manager, analytical chemist/production manager, software developer, food productions manager, and my favorite professional joint roller.  Of course there will be many more opportunities as the industry continues to grow (pun intended). That said, relocation is likely required but then again if you are qualified and possess the skills the company may offer a relocation package.  There is a ton of money being made in the industry!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

 

Life Scientists:Looking for a Job? Consider the Cannabis Industry

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

According to a recent article, the 2013 to 2014 US market for legal Cannabis (medical and recreational) grew 74% from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. Industry analysts predict that the legal marijuana industry is (and will continue to be) the fastest-growing industry in the US over the next 5 years with annual revenues topping $11 billion by 2020.  And, as the industry grows so will employment opportunities. At present, salaries associated with various job functions in the Cannabis industry range from $50,000 to $90,000. As many businesses that support the Cannabis industry continue to grow, the competition for qualified employed will intensify and salaries will concomitantly rise. Currently,, there aren’t enough trained job candidates to fill the many job openings at Cannabis companies. I am sure that many of you who hold graduate degrees in the life sciences are wondering why I am pitching jobs in the Cannabis industry.

First, traditional jobs for PhD-trained life scientist are getting scarcer and the election of Donald Trump suggests that this trend will not be reversed anytime soon.

Second, consider that growing and cultivating marijuana and extracting cannabinoids (the pharmaceutically active molecules in Cannabis buds) require a background in laboratory methods, chemistry, biology and in some cases plant science. For those of you who may not know, the medical Cannabis market is focusing almost exclusively on cannabis extracts and vaporization of these extracts (rather than smoking) is the preferred delivery methods. This suggests that those of you with backgrounds in biomedical engineering and medical devices  can leverage your expertise and skills to obtain jobs in the delivery side of the cannabis industry.  

Third, the expansive growth and sheer economic size of the Cannabis industry suggests that other jobs that require a life science background are likely to emerge. These include quality control/assurance jobs for strain identification, diagnostic jobs to determine THC levels/intoxication, molecular biology and bioinformatic jobs to continue to explore and unlike therapeutically relevant molecules from the Cannabis genome and synthetic biology jobs to increase cannabinoid yields and reduce production costs. Finally, there is currently a dearth of qualified job candidates with scientific backgrounds to fill entry level grow and extraction jobs in the Cannabis industry.

At present, the industry is mainly dominated by long time Cannabis growers, people who use marijuana on a regular basis and some moxy business people/investors who see an an enormous upside for the Cannabis industry. Put simply, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of an industry that is exploding and will ultimately become a legal multibillion dollar a year industry. While I’m sure that neither you nor your parents/family envisioned a career in Cannabis, the jobs are there and ripe for the picking (pun intended).

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!

The Cannabis Genome Is Sequenced

Posted in BioBusiness

 A Massachusetts start up company called Medicinal Genomics announced late last week that it had sequenced the cannabis genome. Kevin McKernan the head of Medicinal Genomics and former leader of Life Technologies Corp Ion Torrent DNA-sequence program decided to undertake the project after he read a paper in Nature describing the possible tumor shrinking effects of marijuana. 

The project, which cost about $200,000, may lead to the development of treatments for cancer, pain and inflammatory diseases said McKernan. He is making the making the data public using Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s EC2 cloud- computing system. McKernan called the work a “draft assembly” and has yet to publish the data in a peer reviewed journal.

 While sequencing the cannabis genome is not a novel feat, McKernan said his company’s goal is to allow researchers to find ways to maximize the cannabis plant’s therapeutic benefits and minimize its psychoactive effects. Cannabinoids, a class of chemicals that includes tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are the main psychoactive substance in marijuana. Another compound called cannabidiol, or CBD, has shown promise in shrinking tumors in rats without the psychoactive effects, McKernan said. 

Companies including England-based GW Pharmaceuticals have used THC and CBD to create cannabis-based medicines like Sativex; indicated for muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis. McKernan contends that the sequence data may help to modify the cannabinoid pathways in the plant or introduce the pathways into other hosts to optimize biological production. “It may be possible through genome directed breeding to attenuate the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while enhancing the medicinal aspects” he said. 

Like it or not, marijuana has a variety of outstanding medicinal properties that can help patients suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses. The politicization of the drug and the impact of its legalization on the US law enforcement and prison systems have prevented the use of marijuana as a bonafide therapeutic agent.  It is troubling to think that highly addictive pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone/paracetamol are legal but marijuana is not.

 Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Sales of Medical Marijuana Reported to Rival Those of Viagra: Who Knew?

Posted in BioBusiness

Can getting high be more important than sex? Probably not if you are in your teens or early 20s, but if you are of  an age where managing the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy or the pain of glaucoma then medical marijuana is likely to be more important than the need for sex! But, to be fair, despite the title of this post, Viagra will lose patent protection shortly (in some places it already has) and the drugs sales have been shrinking. Nevertheless, a report authored by See Change LLC, a Colorado company that provides investment advice to businesses found that the sale of  that medical marijuana has already reached $1.7 billion (in states where it is legal) as compared with annual Viagra sales of $1.9 billion!  

Unfortunately, See Change LLC is charging $1,150 for the report. And since I don’t have the money to purchase  it, I cannot determine the veracity or accuracy of the report. But, according to comments made by the editor of the report roughly 1 in 4 Americans lives in a state in which medical marijuana is legal, and that nearly 25 million people in those states have medical problems for which the drug can be prescribed. The report suggests that medical marijuana sales will reach $8.9 billion in five years.

Despite repeated scientific findings that medical marijuana can be used to effectively treat a variety of clinical indications that include chronic pain, nausea and anxiety, the myth of marijuana as a gateway drug to more serious drug like cocaine, heroin and others has been indelibly burned into the American psyche—not withstanding the statistics that show that prescription drugs like OcyContin, fentanyl and methamphetamine are the most abused drugs in America.  

While marijuana hasn’t been a part of my life for over 35 years, there is no question that it has enormous therapeutic value and ought to be legally prescribed when appropriate. In my opinion, the only thing that is preventing marijuana from being legalized is a business model that allows corporate America and the US government to maximize profits  from sale of the "deadly weed." 

 

 

It is time for Americans to forever expunge the "unbridled horrors" of Refer Madness from their collective psyches!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (be careful out there)

 

Magic Mushrooms: Treating Cancer-Associated Depression

Posted in Career Advice

I came of age in the freewheeling 1960s and early 70s when the counterculture revolution was in full swing and people were regularly experimenting with marijuana and psychedelic drugs aka hallucinogens.

As a veteran of that era, I am well acquainted with these drugs and can personally tell you that they are not for everyone. However, the pharmacological active ingredients of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the naturally-occurring hallucinogens found in peyote (mescaline) and magic mushrooms (psilocybin) have long been known to possess inherent therapeutic value. Unfortunately, because these drugs are associated with a particularly tumultuous period in American history, research into their use as therapeutic agents has long been stymied by the federal agencies that fund basic research in the US. 

Despite these formidable obstacles, a small number of intrepid researchers have managed to demonstrate that these long-vilified and illegal drugs can be used in some cases to treat cancer patients suffering from difficult-to-treat depression and other forms of mental illness. To that end, there was a fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times that described a Johns Hopkins clinical study that showed that psilocybin can be used to manage untreatable depression in a small number of cancer patients.

The results from the study suggest that psilocybin, when administered using rigorous protocols and safeguards, can help to alleviate many of the symptoms of severe depression experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The researchers also contend that the use of hallucinogens can be transformative and may help to identify an endogenous neural pathway that may be responsible for so-called religious epiphanies.

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in California for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. Attendees are expected to discuss studies of psilocybin and other psychoactive hallucinogens to treat depression in cancer patients, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Because reactions to hallucinogens can vary among individuals (primarily depending on the setting and external environment), researchers have developed stringent guidelines to set up a comfortable environment with expert monitors in the room to deal with adverse reactions. Also, they have established standard protocols so that the drugs’ effects can be assessed more accurately by scanning the brains of people who have taken hallucinogens. This is in marked contrast with the recreational use of hallucinogens which generally take place in a variety of sometimes difficult to control social settings; which may be responsible for some of the highly publicized “bad trips” experienced by hallucinogen users.

While there is no question that hallucinogens are very powerful psychoactive drugs—and their misuse can have serious cognitive and emotional consequences—it has never made sense to me why their use as potential therapeutic agents had been so discouraged. Ironically, marijuana and other illegal and so-called “dangerous illegal drugs” may actually be safer and more beneficial than some similar FDA-approved including certain antidepressants.

To be clear, I am not advocating the use of illegal drugs. However, in my experience, there is no obvious correlation between the legality of drugs and their potential therapeutic benefits. For example, both cigarettes and alcohol are legal drugs whereas marijuana (in many places) is not. A quick perusal of the number of people who are maimed or die each year from smoking pot as compared with those who die from lung cancer or are injured or killed by drunk drivers tends to emphasize this assertion. The bottom line: don’t throw any potential drug candidates on the pharmaceutical junk heap until they have been thoroughly researched and vetted as prospective therapeutic agents!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!! (Right on man)

 

Medical Marijuana Use Is Legal in New Jersey

Posted in Career Advice

At long last, marijuana for medical use is legal in New Jersey. As one of his more courageous acts while in office, outgoing Governor John Corzine signed the act into law late yesterday making New Jersey the fourteenth state to legalize medical pot. Four more states and the District of Columbia are expected to follow suit by year’s end.

Many things are driving this sea change. The federal government last year announced that it would no longer prosecute medical marijuana smokers in states where it is legal, while the National Institutes of Health has begun funding research on medicinal use in a reversal of a long-standing policy.

Gallup Polls show a solid majority of Americans sympathetic to therapeutic marijuana use.

Unlike California’s medical marijuana law which allows the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by anyone who possess a "written or oral recommendation" from their physician that he or she "would benefit from medical marijuana," New Jersey’s version requires patient identification cards and state-monitored dispensaries — easing fears that medical use will fuel illegal sales and teenage substance abuse.

While cannabis preparations have been used to relieve nausea and pain since ancient times, research involving medical uses of marijuana was under funded and in many instances discouraged according to an article in today’s New York Times. But over the last 15 years, research on the body’s cannabinoid receptors has begun to decipher the chemistry and biology of the positive effects of cannabinoids especially in the areas of glaucoma and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting experienced by patients being treated for cancer. More recently, clinical trials have shown that these benefits outweigh the concerns about addiction, heart and respiratory diseases, cancers, and psychoses — at least, with short-term use.

Marinol, a synthetic cannabinoid pill, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating AIDS-related wasting and chemotherapy-related nausea. But many patients say choking down a slow-acting pill simply doesn’t provide the convenient and immediate relief of inhaling marijuana smoke. A new drug, Sativex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, may renew the debate. A cannabinoid-based oral spray, Sativex is approved in Canada for treating pain in multiple sclerosis and advanced cancer. The company is now completing the clinical testing needed for approval in Europe and the United States.

While I don’t endorse or use illegal drugs (any more), there is no question that medical marijuana helps patients deal with chronic and, in some instances, severely debilitating conditions that impact the overall quality of their lives. I have long contended that just because a substance is deemed illegal it doesn’t negate potential medically-beneficial properties. An example of legal drugs that don’t have any therapeutic benefits and cause much more morbidity and mortality than marijuana are cigarettes and alcohol. Need I say more?

All I gotta say is that we have come a long way since I saw the film Refer Madness while growing up and coming of age in the late 60s. For those of you who haven’t seen the film it is funny whether you are straight or high! object width="445" height="364">

 

 

 

 

I guess the nation—well NJ anyway—is finally going to pot!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Toking (only for medicinal purposes of course)!!!!!!!!!!!

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Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting and Medical Marijuana

Posted in Career Advice

For the past month or so I have been working on a piece about chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) that is common among patients being treated for cancer. While not a pleasant topic, it is a reality for many patients who undergo cancer chemotherapy treatment.  Although CINV is less common with some of the newly-developed anti-cancer monoclonal antibody treatments, it is still a troublesome and debilitating problem that must be managed during conventional cancer chemotherapy treatment regimens. 

There is a growing body of evidence that marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient) and related cannabinoid-like agents may help to effectively manage and control CINV in certain patients who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy. Recognizing this, 14 states have already legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Interestingly, according to Newsweek Magazine (November 2, 2009), the US government could save as much as $13.5 billion annually if it stopped enforcing laws against marijuana. To that end, the Justice Department says it will no longer prosecute people who use if for medicinal purposes in the 14 states where that’s legal.

While I am not advocating illegal drug use, it seems silly to me that the inherent, medically-beneficial properties of  marijuana haven’t been fully utilized to treat patients who are suffering from potentially life-threatening illnesses like cancer.  Further, there are legal and medical precedents for the use of illegal drugs that offer medical benefits. For example, while opium use is illegal in the US but morphine and related products (which are derived from opium and poppy plants) are legal prescription drugs that are regularly used to control acute and chronic pain in millions of Americans. Unfortunately, research on development of cannabinoid-like drugs to treat CINV has been stifled because of the illegality of marijuana.

The number of patients being treated for cancer rises each year. Isn’t it time to start offering patients the best and most effective medical treatments available to them rather than continuing to adhere to out dated and unevenly enforced US drug laws?

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

The New Buzz on Marijuana

Posted in Career Advice

For the past 30 years or so, the Unites States government has been looking for any reason what so ever to argue against the legalization of marijuana. This is despite a growing body of evidence that marijuana use provides documented, palliative and therapeutic benefits to people who suffer from serious illness like glaucoma, chronic pain and the side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Although marijuana use for medicinal purposes is illegal at the federal level, some Western States, most notably California, have legalized its use —it can now be purchased by people who have valid prescriptions from specially-designed .

From time to time, papers have appeared in the literatures which suggest that marijuana use has deleterious effects on mental acuity, emotional stability, breathing and sperm production. A  recent report  from New Zealand (which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) suggests that chronic marijuana use can increase the likelihood of periodontal disease in young adults.

C’mon, gum disease….are you kidding me? Don’t get me wrong, untreated periodontal disease is a serous medical issue. That said,  I suspect that more people are likely to develop periodontal disease from poor dental hygiene and a lack of dental insurance than from smoking a joint from time to time. The fact that the American Medical Association is subliminally try to turn marijuana-induced periodontal disease into an American public health crisis signals to me that government officials are running out of credible arguments to prevent the legalization of marijuana in this country.

Growing up in the 60s, I am very familiar with the consequences and negative outcomes of drug misuse and abuse. While I don’t advocate the use of marijuana and other psychotropic drugs for recreational use, I do believe that patients with serious medical illnesses ought to have legal access to drugs that are safe and offer therapeutic benefits. Further, I think that many drugs that are currently illegal in America ought to be legalized. In my opinion, the legalization of drugs in America will help to reduce crime, allow monies currently allocated to combat illegal drug trafficking to be used for struggling social programs and to demystify the use of illegal drugs American children and young adults. Ironically, illegal drug use by  American children and young adults has been declining over the last few years whereas abuse of  legal, prescription drugs has been skyrocketing out of control. Maybe it is time for America to re-think its drug polices and craft new ones that do a better job of safeguarding America’s youth.

Until next time….happy trails to you! And as always…..

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!