As regulations for medicinal cannabis roll out in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, a leading Mexican university is starting to educate Spanish-speaking doctors on the proper prescription and medical use of cannabinoids.
Renowned Mexican private university Tecnológico de Monterrey and Canadian-headquartered cannabis operator Khiron Life Sciences Corp (TSXV: KHRN) have teamed up to launch the country’s first medical marijuana diploma for doctors and medical professionals.
The first 86-student cohort started studies Feb. 20, and includes medical professionals from Mexico, Colombia, Peru and other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Students meet online for a full day of class every Saturday to complete the 96-hour program.
Course materials include: an overview of the plant and its regulations, the endocannabinoid system and pharmacology, current research, proper use and possible pharmacological interactions, prescription and administration, as well as business models for specialized cannabis clinics.
According to program director Dr. Maria Fernanda Arboleda, medical professionals don’t receive any training in medicinal marijuana and she wants to educate doctors on its proper use and prescription.
“We have several barriers in order to prescribe cannabis. Physicians are full of barriers, and one of them is the lack of knowledge,” Arboleda said in a phone interview.
Arboleda is an associate research director at Santé Cannabis, a Quebec-based cannabis company offering clinical services, conducting research and developing educational resources.
“Nobody is speaking about medical cannabis in the university, never ever, because of course there is a lot of stigma. We grew up in this prohibition era so it has been really difficult to access to this knowledge,” she added.
Access to medical cannabis is a right, doctor says
Arboleda, an anesthesiologist and a pain-management expert, thinks the program will revolutionize the access to pain-management treatments, and decrease stigma among the medical community.
“Even though there is stigma, patients who know that they need the treatment seek help,” she says. “That’s why we need to fulfill this gap.”
In addition to the limited knowledge, the country lacks regulated medical product, which Arboleda hopes the course will help encourage Mexico’s government to finally approve cannabis-based treatments.
According to her, there are 11.7 million people that could benefit from medicinal marijuana but have no legal access to it.
Arboleda believes the lack of specificity in current regulations needs to be addressed, as it poses a risk for current patients and doctors trying to use and prescribe medicinal marijuana.
“It is a right for patients to access legal treatments using products that have proven to have a safety profile,” she explains. “This can assure patients that they are receiving what the label is saying because nowadays we have no idea what they are taking, or if it is CBD or has contaminants.”
The School of Medicine and Health Sciences TecSalud, the branch of the university offering the program, has been approved by the US Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, a Chicago-based non-profit corporation responsible for accrediting institutions that offer continuing medical education to health care professionals.
“Our goal is to improve the lives of 1 million patients by 2024, and Mexico is a very important part of that plan,” Khiron CEO Alvaro Torres said in a statement. “The success of our partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey allows us to now introduce the first internationally recognized medical cannabis diploma program in Latin America. We are very enthusiastic about our role in the legal medical cannabis market in Mexico and believe that an educated physician community, together with our proven, vertically integrated model, will give us a significant first mover and sustainable advantage in the country.”
Last year, Khiron launched a cannabis e-learning platform in the United Kingdom to educate medical professionals there.
The TecSalud program costs US$700 and applicants must have a medical degree to register.
Top image: The rectorate building of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. Photo by Spangineer via Wikimedia Commons