U.S. Cannabis Academic Programs: A Conversation with Two Universities Leading the Way: Page 2 of 2

March 6, 2020

What partnerships were key to getting your program up and running? Can you share any information on new, future directions or expansions of your program?

Paulsen: A critical partner has been Shimadzu Scientific Instruments. Early on, we were the recipients of an instrumentation grant from Shimadzu that allowed us to acquire a liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) system that has been critical in research and teaching efforts these past three years. More recently, NMU and Shimadzu formed a partnership that allowed us to equip the new Medicinal Plant Science Facility. Our seniors graduating this year, our faculty studying secondary metabolites, and all future students will benefit from this partnership.

The university is set to announce a new indoor agriculture program that we believe will be of interest to students who are more focused on growing operations rather than testing laboratories. We are also tweaking the degree requirements in light of what we have learned about our students these past three years and the Political Science Department will start offering courses on cannabis law and cannabis public policy starting next year.

Sera: The University System of Maryland Board of Regents and the Maryland Higher Education Commission both reviewed and approved the program last spring. We also discussed the proposed curriculum with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, who supported our proposal to develop the MS program. Many different departments and individuals at the University of Maryland Baltimore and the Universities at Shady Grove have assisted with the development and implementation of the program. It’s been a team effort!

Are there any closing thoughts or lessons learned that you would like to share for any readers that may be considering developing their own academic cannabis programs?

Paulsen: I think that one of the real positives of launching this program is that we have attracted to campus students who are excited and passionate about learning and are bringing a real energy to campus. This energy is transforming our department in ways that I would not have imagined.

Sera: It’s been challenging and rewarding to build this program—seeing how enthusiastic and motivated our students are to move this field forward is inspiring!


Want to learn more about these pioneering academic cannabis programs? Join us at the Cannabis Science Conference East in Baltimore, Maryland for two exciting sessions presented by Dr. Leah Sera and Dr. Mark Paulsen:

Turning Over a New Leaf: Developing Graduate Education in Medical Cannabis, Dr. Leah Sera, in the Analytical Science Track
Incorporating Cannabis Content in Undergraduate Education, Dr. Mark Paulsen, in the Analytical Science Track

About the Interviewees

Dr. Mark Paulsen earned a PhD in biophysical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a faculty member at Northern Michigan University for two decades and is currently head of the Department of Chemistry where he oversees the Medicinal Plant Chemistry program.





Dr. Leah Sera is an assistant professor and Program Director for the Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics (MCST) program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Dr. Sera received her PharmD from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and completed two years of post-graduate training, specializing in palliative care. She is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and completed a Master of Arts in Instructional Systems Development at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2017.




About the Columnist

Joshua Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads” and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. Crossney is also the president and CEO of CSC Events. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]



How to Cite this Article

J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 3(2), 22–24 (2020).