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NEWS | January 31, 2017

Undergraduate course on the 'Physiology of Cannabis' offered this spring at UC Davis

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

A new undergraduate course on “Physiology of Cannabis” (HPH 115) will be offered at UC Davis this spring to raise awareness and understanding of how cannabis and cannabinoids affect the body.

First undergraduate course in Physiology of Cannabis offered this spring at UC Davis. Courses for medical students and the general public are also planned. First undergraduate course in Physiology of Cannabis offered this spring at UC Davis. Courses for medical students and the general public are also planned.

Designed for students in the biological sciences, the three-unit course will cover the biology of cannabis and cannabinoids as well as their physiological effects in multiple systems, underlying mechanisms and therapeutic values. It also will survey the history of cannabis use, cover the endocannabinoid system and discuss potential medical targets for cannabis and their relative effectiveness.

“This course is one of the few taught on an American college campus with a dedicated theme on the biology, physiology and medicinal effects of cannabis and cannabinoids,” said Yu-Fung Lin, an associate professor of physiology and membrane biology at UC Davis School of Medicine who is teaching the course. 

“It is also the first course offered on the UC Davis campus, and likely within the entire UC system,”  she said.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for a variety of medical uses, and eight of those states plus the district have also legalized it for recreational use. California voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 years or older in 2016.

“The timing could not be better to give students the opportunity to have a profound understanding about the physiology and medical implications of cannabis use,” said Luis Fernando Santana, professor and chair of physiology and membrane biology at the UC Davis School of Medicine.  

Lin, who also has a joint appointment in the Department Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, is preparing a similar course specifically for UC Davis medical students. Lin and Santana also hope the courses will be a blueprint for educating the general public about cannabis as well.

The Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology is one of five basic science departments at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Department faculty aim to create new knowledge to advance understanding of biological processes and benefit society by facilitating more precise diagnosis and effective disease treatment. They conduct innovative, leading-edge research and provide excellent educational opportunities and mentoring to students, postdoctoral fellows and residents.