Following the legalization of cannabis by the Canadian federal government on October 17 of last year, Red River College tendered its inaugural offering of a course on cannabis called Cannabis 101. It was offered via the College’s Continuing Education Department under the auspices of the School of Indigenous Education. Starting on November 6, the course wrapped up December 13. There were 53 students in the class including three from the nursing faculty, Karen Burns, Kate Tate, and myself.
The two course leaders, Dr. Shelley Turner and Dr. Faith Dieleman, are both physicians and strong advocates for the medicinal use of cannabis. Dr. Turner is a family doctor practising in Ontario and Manitoba, who specializes in medical cannabis, addictions, and Indigenous health. Dr. Dieleman works closely with Dr. Turner as a research assistant. She is passionate about her work with addictions and has interests in medical education and ensuring accessible healthcare for all.
Appealing to a broad audience of individuals interested in varied aspects of information regarding cannabis, the course started with details on the legal regulations and restrictions on cannabis use both federally and provincially. Present day policies as well as those of the past were discussed by an inspector from Manitoba’s Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.
The next few classes focused on cannabis plant botany – looking at the difference between cannabis and hemp, then discussion on the major well-known chemical constituents of the cannabis plant as well as information on less well-known chemicals that hold promise as new pharmaceuticals.
Plant genetics were covered in another lecture along with an overview of the current research and development in the medicinal cannabis industry. The students seemed to particularly enjoy the class on growing cannabis. The speaker for the evening brought several cannabis plants with him and was an affable and knowledgeable lecturer. After demonstrating the procedure for best getting cannabis seeds to grow, he invited the class to check in on Instagram as the plants sprouted and started to grow. He also brought along a number of boxes of cannabis ready for use, and the students enjoyed having a “sniff” of some of the interesting scents that can be created by different strains of the plant.
The focus of class switched to the commercial aspects of the new legal cannabis industry and the rules and regulations for those interested in becoming a commercial cannabis vendor, supplier, or grower.
The final lectures focused on the medicinal uses for cannabis and its potential in treating addictions, cancer, chronic pain, and relief of symptoms in some of the long term neuromuscular diseases like multiple sclerosis. Also included in this topic was emphasis on safety, social responsibility, and harm reduction strategies as they relate to cannabis use.
Dr. Turner is presently in communication with the College about subsequent educational courses related to cannabis.
Post written by Evelyn Lundeen – Nursing Instructor