Amidst talk of the cannabis surplus and moshpits of investors frenzying around the industry, actually understanding cannabis as a plant has been pushed to the back burner. Retail is focused on branding and marketing; producers prioritize vertical integration before plant biology courses. The economic excitement far outshines the vastness of a general misunderstanding of how this plant works.
But considering how few accredited resources exist for higher cannabis education, it’s certainly not entirely their fault for being uninformed.
Brandie Leach, sometimes known as Mary Jane Poppins, saw an opportunity to put her own herbal expertise to good work. Something versatile, that both budtenders, investors and cultivators could benefit from, that could also take place anywhere. A comprehensive study course, more along the lines of continuing education sessions than a community college, and one that would retain some of the whimsy that goes with studying a plant long-dismissed as a psychotropic drug. Something like a grown-up science club. A Sativa Science Club, to be exact, founded the summer of 2017 in Portland, OR.
The classes took place in person at first, the student body made up of an assembly of people in the industry and interested in it, from dispensary managers in Colorado and California, to tax lawyers and real estate investors. The Jupiter Hotel offered up their event room as a venue, the chic, cannabis-adjacent space providing added value and esteem as students arrived with notebooks in hand.
Then, over the past year, courses were crafted and organized into bite-size courses online, altogether amassing to form an online certification program. The program–centered around the core subjects of cannabis botany, cannabis compounds, the endocannabinoid system, consumption science, client care and advocacy–is available online via weekly modules. This coursework–peer-reviewed by a board of experts in their field–includes videos, printable templates, e-books, resource directories, and more. Membership also includes “virtual office hours,” which means remote mentorship and strategic advice from the team. The lifetime membership permits students to review the courses online as much as they want, for as long as the courses exist in the online library.
Now that the dust has settled and she’s gained a stronger sense of the SSC’s role in the industry, Leach has just announced a relaunch. Instead of a one-year anniversary, they’re officially celebrating a “re-birthday of the Sativa Science Club.”
“The program developed over 2017 was a great start,” says Leach. “But it occurred to me that all the technical training in the world would not make a difference if our members don’t feel confident sharing this information in their daily professional lives. So this year, it’s all about leadership and advocacy.”
Leach is starting with giving away 25 full-tuition scholarships to the Elevated Advocacy program 2019. Then the first 25 members to enroll will get a lifetime membership for only $250 (usually $1,750). In addition to an updated curriculum on the fundamentals of cannabis science, she’ll focus on teaching how attendees can use the knowledge to improve their standard practice. In regards to the shift to an online format, Leach sees it as an expansion.
“The most obvious advantage of online learning is the ability to appeal to a variety of learning styles,” notes Leach. “It’s been a lot of fun on the back end designing multimedia learning tools But I think the biggest and most impactful change is the worldwide reach. Not only does this mean more dynamic and socially relevant conversations in the classroom, but it allows us to feature guest experts from all over the world.”
Another announcement amidst the rebirth is the recruitment of Dr. Mike McCormack as Science Editor-in-Chief. With a Ph.D. in chemistry from M.I.T. and experience studying cannabinoid receptors at the Scripps Research Institute, Leach has found the program’s missing piece.
“There are many cannabis researchers and scientists who are doing profoundly important work, but very few share the same passion and drive for community health education as Dr. Mike,” says Leach. “He immediately understood our mission: top-notch technical training that is at once approachable and inspiring.”
Learn more about SSC and enroll here.
Full story is available here.