AUT offers 'cannabis 101' paper exploring cultivation and history

Ali Seyfoddin is the course leader in a new paper on medicinal cannabis.
Ali Seyfoddin is the course leader in a new paper on medicinal cannabis. Photo credit: Supplied, Getty

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has launched New Zealand's first paper on medicinal cannabis.

Postgraduate School of Science students will be able to take The Science of Medicinal Cannabis paper from semester 2 which includes theory and practical components.

Dr Ali Seyfoddin, course leader and senior lecturer in drug delivery, described the paper as "Cannabis 101".

"Education is an important component of New Zealand's medicinal cannabis scheme and it's essential that research and education providers provide courses for those wishing to enter the industry.

"We have ongoing research on medicinal cannabis cultivation, extraction and formulation which will inform much of the course's content."

He says now is a great time to offer the paper.

"A new industry is being rapidly formed around medicinal cannabis in New Zealand," he told Newshub.

"With legislation already in place, companies are setting up their cultivation and processing sites. As a public university, we are responding to industry needs in preparing graduates who have acquired the required skills in a reliable educational system."

He says the paper is only being offered to postgraduate students as they need to "demonstrate a relevant proficiency in science" to take part in the focused area of research.

The subjects within the paper include the history and legislation of cannabis in New Zealand, cultivation, processing, extraction, chemistry, formulation and pharmacology of cannabis.

Dr Seyfoddin says given the paper may be run online given the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Chris Fowlie, the CEO of AUT's research partner ZeaCann, says the paper is important to make sure the industry is getting qualified staff.

"This course will teach the skills needed to work in the field. Hundreds of new jobs are expected to be created, with the potential for medicinal cannabis exports to rival those of wine or wool," he says.

"We're excited to help AUT deliver this course as part of our ongoing research partnership."

The announcement comes just months before New Zealanders are set to vote in the 2020 Cannabis referendum on whether recreational cannabis should be legalised.

The proposed changes would still see several controls including cannabis remaining illegal for anyone under 20-years-old, limited potency, no public consumption, plain, childproof packaging and sales limited to licensed premises.