As we witness more and more states legalizing recreational cannabis and the large amounts of investors swarming around the industry, actually understanding cannabis as a plant has become less important and pushed more towards the back burner. Retail is focused immensely on branding and marketing, while producers prioritize vertical integration before plant biology courses. The economic excitement regarding the plant clearly outshines the vastness of a general misunderstanding of how this plant functions. Though, with the lack of accredited resources for higher cannabis education, it makes total sense.

Brandie Leach, occasionally known as Mary Jane Poppins, saw an opportunity to apply her own herbal expertise with something that could take place anywhere, focused on benefitting budtenders, investors, cultivators, or anyone looking to gain knowledge on cannabis. She decided to create her own comprehensive study course, more along the lines of continuing education sessions than a community college, called Sativa Science Club – founded the summer of 2017 in Portland, OR.

When the Sativa Science Club was first established, classes took place in person, while the students in attendance ranged from dispensary managers in Colorado and California, to tax lawyers and real estate investors. The classes took place at the Jupiter Hotel in the event room as a venue.

Courses were later planned and organized into bite-size courses online, ultimately forming an online certification program. The program focuses on core subjects including cannabis botany, cannabis compounds, the endocannabinoid system, consumption science, client care and advocacy, which is available online via weekly modules.  In addition, the Sativa Science Club’s membership includes “virtual office hours,” meaning students have access to remote mentorship and strategic advice from the team.

Now that Leach gained a stronger sense of the SSC’s role in the industry, she recently announced a relaunch. Instead of celebrating a one-year anniversary, the club will be celebrating a “re-birthday of the Sativa Science Club.”

“The program developed over 2017 was a great start,” says Leach. “But it occurred to me that all the technical training in the world would not make a difference if our members don’t feel confident sharing this information in their daily professional lives. So this year, it’s all about leadership and advocacy.”

Leach will begin by giving away 25 full-tuition scholarships to the Elevated Advocacy program 2019. Furthermore, the first 25 members to enroll will receive a lifetime membership for only $250, instead of the typical $1,750.

Not only will Leach focus on updated curriculum on the fundamentals of cannabis science, she’ll also focus on teaching attendees how to apply the knowledge learned to improve their standard practice.

“The most obvious advantage of online learning is the ability to appeal to a variety of learning styles,” notes Leach. “It’s been a lot of fun on the back end designing multimedia learning tools But I think the biggest and most impactful change is the worldwide reach. Not only does this mean more dynamic and socially relevant conversations in the classroom, but it allows us to feature guest experts from all over the world.”

Leach made another announcement, in which Forbes says she’s “found the program’s missing piece,” by recruiting Dr. Mike McCormack as Science Editor-in-Chief. Dr. McCormack has a Ph.D. in chemistry from M.I.T. and experience studying cannabinoid receptors at the Scripps Research Institute.

“There are many cannabis researchers and scientists who are doing profoundly important work, but very few share the same passion and drive for community health education as Dr. Mike,” says Leach. “He immediately understood our mission: top-notch technical training that is at once approachable and inspiring.”

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