Medical Cannabis Course Accredited In Illinois

Next term starts on September 3rd, 2024!


State cannabis reform and impending federal decriminalization are creating a demand surge for qualified cannabis healthcare professionals. Pacific College’s medical cannabis programs, accredited in Illinois, provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to bridge the gap between the constantly evolving cannabis industry and the growing science behind cannabis medicine.

10 Reasons to Pursue Your Medical Cannabis Certificate or Master’s Degree at Pacific College, Accredited in Illinois

The Pacific College of Health and Science’s (PCHS) medical cannabis certificate and master’s programs prepare you to thrive in the cannabis industry as healthcare providers, advocates, educators, coaches, or entrepreneurs.

The programs are 100% online and specifically built for busy professionals like you.

As a leader in alternative and complementary medicine education since 1986, PCHS, formerly known as Pacific College of Oriental Medicine or “PCOM”, has a long history of emphasizing herbology, holism, and overall patient wellness.

Pacific College’s Medical Cannabis Programs, accredited in Illinois, provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to bridge the gap between the constantly evolving cannabis industry, and the growing science behind cannabis medicine.

PCHS is a proud sponsor of the American Cannabis Nurse Association (ACNA)

PCHS is accredited by the prestigious Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission (WASC’s WSCUC), which also counts Stanford, the University of California (UC) and many more as its member institutions.

PCHS’s deeply knowledgeable faculty follow the integrative healthcare approach. They are trained in the pharmacology of herbs and in the incorporation of medicinal herbs into a patient’s allopathic medical diagnoses.

You will learn to work in collaboration with other healthcare providers.

Graduates of the Pacific College’s Medical Cannabis Certificate programs can transfer their credits to the MS-MCT program.

The medical cannabis certificate courses are also available as electives in PCHS’s Holistic Nursing programs.

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cannabis nurse

100% online

cannabis nurse jobs

Financial aid for those who qualify

cannabis nursing jobs

Combination of optional recorded live classes and asynchronous assignments

medical marijuanas certification

Pacific College is accredited in Illinois by WASC

medical marijuana certification

Highly qualified, post-graduate level faculty


Medical Cannabis Certificate

In healthcare, too many front-line workers are under-prepared to consult with and coach patients on the safe and effective use of cannabis. Access to college-level medical cannabis education is essential. Nurses and other healthcare professionals will learn how to incorporate cannabis into patient care and understand how it works in the body, the pharmacological issues, potential adverse effects, and more.
marijuana and ms in Illinois

Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics (MS-MCT)

The MS in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics furthers PCHS’s program offerings for healthcare providers by expanding the existing Medical Cannabis Certificate program developed in 2019, and offers a deeper understanding of integrative medicine and patients’ overall health.
Please note that the Medical Cannabis Certificate courses can also be taken as elective in the RN-to-BSN (Holistic Nursing) program.
Cannabidiol (CBD)
Next term starts on September 3rd, 2024!

Meet your Faculty

Timothy Byars, Program Director

MS, Cannabis Science and Therapeutics

Dr. Carey Clark, Faculty


Past President, American Cannabis Nurses Association

Rachel Parmelee, Faculty


President, American Cannabis Nurses Association

Barbara Orchester, Faculty


Sandra Guynes headshot

Sandra Guynes, Faculty


Thomas A. Clobes, Faculty


Alice O’Leary Randall, Faculty


Biyyiah A. Lee, Faculty


Medical Cannabis Facts

This unprecedented societal shift presents opportunities as well as challenges. As more states adopt cannabis laws, more patients will use cannabis, and more healthcare professionals with knowledge and expertise in medical cannabis are needed to deliver care. Interested in reading more? Visit our Medical Cannabis Resources and Information page!

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Pacific College of Health and Science offers Medical Cannabis programs accredited in Illinois through a Medical Cannabis Certificate or as a Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics. Both medical cannabis programs are 100% online and prepare you to thrive in the cannabis industry as healthcare providers, advocates, educators, coaches, or entrepreneurs. With courses in the Endocannabinoid System and Pharmacology among others, these programs aim to help you stand out as an expert in the medical cannabis space.

Medical Cannabis degree in Illinois

Medical Cannabis Course Accredited In Illinois FAQ

What is Medical Cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to the use of the cannabis plant or its derivatives for therapeutic purposes. The plant contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, which are active ingredients known for their medicinal properties. [1]

The two most well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, is what gives users a "high, while CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. In addition to cannabinoids, the cannabis plant contains terpenes, which are aromatic compounds that give the plant its distinct smell and flavor. Terpenes also have therapeutic properties and can forge ahead synergistically with cannabinoids to enhance their effects. [2]

When medical cannabis is consumed, the cannabinoids and terpenes interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system that regulates various physiological processes, such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, and immune function. The cannabinoids in medical cannabis mimic the effects of the endocannabinoids manufactured by the body and bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs to regulate these processes.

THC binds primarily to the CB1 receptor, which is established in high concentrations in the brain and central nervous system. This interaction leads to the euphoric and psychoactive effects associated with marijuana use. CBD, on the other hand, has a low affinity for the CB1 receptor and primarily binds to the CB2 receptor that’s housed in the immune system and peripheral tissues. CBD has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic effects, among others. [3] [4]

A Brief History of Medical Cannabis

Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. The earliest recorded use of cannabis as medicine dates back to ancient China, where it was used to treat a plethora of ailments such as malaria, constipation, and menstrual cramps. From there, its use spread to other parts of Asia and the Middle East, eventually reaching Europe in the 19th century.

In the United States, cannabis was commonly used as medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was prescribed for conditions such as pain, nausea, and insomnia, among others. However, with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, cannabis was effectively banned for both medicinal and recreational use.

It wasn't until the 1990s that the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes began to gain widespread attention once again. In 1996, Illinois became the first state to legalize medical cannabis with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act, followed by several other states in the following years. Today, medical cannabis is legal in more than 30 states in the US as well as other select countries around the world.

In recent years, there’s been a mushrooming body of research supporting the use of cannabis for a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity. Despite the growing acceptance of medical cannabis, however, there is still much debate over its efficacy and safety. As such, it remains imperative for patients and medical professionals alike to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits before looking to cannabis as a medical treatment. [5] [6] [7]

Principles of Medical Cannabis Use

cannabis use is guided by proper dosing, strain selection, and ingestion methods. To prevent adverse effects, it is imperative to initiate treatment with a low dose and gradually increase it as appropriate. The ideal dosage may vary depending on the patient's clinical condition, weight, and cannabis tolerance level.

Strain selection is a crucial aspect of medical cannabis therapy, given that different strains have varying chemical compositions and may confer distinct therapeutic benefits. This will be elaborated upon in a subsequent section.

There are various methods of ingesting medical cannabis, including inhalation (smoking or vaping), oral ingestion (edibles or tinctures), and topical application (creams or lotions). Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the preferred method may vary depending on the individual's needs and preferences. [8] [9]

Safety considerations are sacrosanct when using medical cannabis. Potential side effects include dry mouth, red eyes, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Long-term use of cannabis may also lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. [10]

Before starting medical cannabis, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider knowledgeable in cannabis medicine. Individuals with a history of psychiatric disorders should use caution when using cannabis, as it may exacerbate symptoms. It is also essential to ensure that medical cannabis does not interact with other medications the individual may be consuming.

Types of Medical Cannabis

Preeminently, there are three types of medical cannabis: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Each of these variations differs in its chemical composition, physical appearance, and effects on the body.

Indica strains are widely known for their relaxing and sedative effects. They are typically high in CBD and low in THC, which makes them ideal for conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Indica strains also have a more earthy or musky aroma and are characterized by their short, bushy plants with broad leaves.

Sativa strains, on the other hand, are acknowledged for their energizing and uplifting effects. They are typically high in THC and low in CBD, which makes them ideal for conditions like depression, fatigue, and ADHD. Sativa strains also have a more fruity or spicy aroma and are characterized by their tall, slender plants with narrow leaves.

Hybrid strains are a combination of both indica and sativa strains. Hybrids can be either indica-dominant, sativa-dominant, or balanced in their effects, depending on the specific strain and the percentage of each parent strain used in the breeding process. This allows for a wide range of effects and therapeutic benefits, depending on the specific strain. [11] [12] [13]

Medical Cannabis vs. Medical Marijuana

The terms "medical cannabis" and "medical marijuana" are often used interchangeably, but they have different, nuanced meanings. Medical marijuana typically refers to the use of the whole, unprocessed cannabis plant or its extracts to treat symptoms or conditions. It is legal in some states in the United States, as well as in some other countries, but it remains illegal under the far-reaching umbrella of federal law.

Medical cannabis, on the other hand, can refer to any cannabis-based product used for medical purposes, including those that are not derived from the whole plant. This can include synthetic cannabinoids or pharmaceutical formulations of cannabinoids. It typically contains higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC compared to recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis is often afforded in the form of oils, tinctures, capsules, and other products.

In terms of legal status, the use of medical cannabis and medical marijuana varies by jurisdiction. While some countries have legalized both for medical use, others have only legalized medical cannabis. Additionally, medical cannabis is prescribed by a medical professional and is intended to address specific medical conditions, while medical marijuana may be used more broadly for symptom relief. [14]

Benefits and Disadvantages of Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis has shown promise in treating a range of conditions, primarily due to its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body. Because it is becoming increasingly popular as a potential therapeutic option, it is important that, just as with any other treatment, its benefits and risks be scrutinized.

Pros of Medical Cannabis
  • Pain Relief

    Medical cannabis is known for its pain-blocking properties. It can help alleviate chronic pain caused by conditions such as multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and cancer-related pain. [15] [16]

  • Anxiety Reduction

    Medical cannabis can help reduce anxiety and stress levels in patients. It has been used to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). [17] [18]

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties

    Medical cannabis has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help curtail inflammation in the body. This property can help treat conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). [19] [20]

  • Other Potential Benefits

    Medical cannabis has also been studied for its potential to treat other conditions such as epilepsy, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and glaucoma. [21] [22] [23]

Cons of Medical Cannabis
  • Addiction

    Like any drug, medical cannabis can be addictive. Regular use of medical cannabis can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. [10]

  • Impaired Cognitive Function

    Medical cannabis can impair cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making abilities. This can make it dangerous for patients to operate heavy machinery or perform tasks that require mental alertness. [24] [25]

  • Negative Effects on Mental Health

    Medical cannabis can also have negative effects on mental health, especially in people who are predisposed to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. [26] [27]

  • Other Potential Risks

    Medical cannabis can interact with other medications, and its use may be contraindicated for people with certain medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

Factors that can influence the risks associated with medical cannabis use include the patient's age, overall health status, and dosage. Patients should always discuss the potential risks and benefits of medical cannabis use with their healthcare provider before starting treatment. It's also important to use medical cannabis only under the guidance of a licensed healthcare provider to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Pursuing a Career in the Medical Cannabis Industry

If you're pursuing education with a strong interest in medical cannabis, there are a variety of career opportunities available to you in this exciting and rapidly evolving industry.

  • Medical Cannabis Physician

    Medical cannabis physicians specialize in evaluating patients who may benefit from medical cannabis treatment. They assess patients' medical histories, provide education on the use of medical cannabis, and determine whether medical cannabis may be an appropriate treatment option for their patients.

  • Medical Cannabis Consultant

    Medical cannabis consultants offer guidance and support to medical cannabis patients. They may work in dispensaries or medical clinics, helping patients choose appropriate strains and products and providing education on dosing, administration, and potential side effects.

  • Medical Cannabis Researcher

    Medical cannabis researchers conduct scientific studies on the effects of medical cannabis on various health conditions. They may work in academic or industrial settings, collaborating with other scientists to advance our understanding of medical cannabis and its promising therapeutic benefits.
  • If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the medical cannabis industry, there are a few educational and licensing requirements you should be aware of. Depending on your state's laws, you may need to complete additional training or certification programs in order to work with medical cannabis patients. You will also need to retain a current medical license and stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments in the medical cannabis field.

    It's important to note that the medical cannabis industry is still relatively new and rapidly evolving, so there may be additional educational and licensing requirements as the industry grows and matures. However, with a strong commitment to education and a passion for helping patients, you can build a rewarding career in the medical cannabis industry as a clinician.

Medical Cannabis Certificate and Degree Programs at Pacific College in Illinois

Obtaining a medical cannabis certificate can provide numerous benefits to healthcare professionals looking to expand their expertise. With the legalization of cannabis in many states and the potential for federal decriminalization in the near future, the need for qualified cannabis healthcare professionals is on the rise.

If you’re a future or current healthcare professional looking to expand your knowledge and skill set in cannabis medicine, consider enrolling in Pacific College’s medical cannabis certificate or degree programs in Illinois today. You will be able to gain a comprehensive understanding of cannabis pharmacology, the latest research on cannabis-based therapies, as well as the legal and ethical considerations that come with recommending cannabis as a treatment option, all of which will enable you to render safe, effective, and compassionate treatment options to patients for a variety of conditions.

Don’t miss out on the occasion. Stay ahead of the curve in this rapidly evolving industry. Enroll in Pacific College today to take the first step towards a rewarding career as a qualified cannabis healthcare professional

Watch faculty member Eloise Theisen and director Timothy Byars discuss whether medical cannaBis can help prevent or treat COVID-19

Ready to Apply?

If you think a career in medical cannabis is something you would like to pursue, contact us and speak to an admissions representative to get started on your new journey!

For more information, call (855) 866-6767 or fill out our contact form to be contacted by a Pacific College representative.