Ken Johnson used to be the go-to person for injured athletes.
The recreational gymnast spent the early part of his career providing sports therapy to elite athletes competing in everything from gymnastics and bobsledding. The Attleboro, Massachusetts, resident accompanied athletes to the Olympic Games in 2002, 2004, and 2006.
But when Johnson became sidelined with cryptogenic cirrhosis and polyneuropathy and myopathy in his late 40s, there were no physical therapy exercises to help with his prognosis. The only thing that helped him feel better was cannabis.
“This type of cirrhosis, which is from an unknown origin, tied me up quite a bit. It took me from doing level high-level athletic work to not even being able to walk across the room,” Johnson says. “I became very frustrated as an individual because I physically and emotionally couldn’t do what I used to. So I focused on academic part of cannabis to see how it could help me.”
He enrolled in UVM’s Cannabis Science and Medicine Professional Certificate, an online, seven-week program. Offered by UVM’s Department of Pharmacology in the Larner College of Medicine, the non-credit cannabis online program covers cannabis history, business, law and policy, plant biology, biological effects on humans, production and safety, pharmacology, and clinical research.
“When I found UVM’s program, I knew I wanted to learn about cannabis in terms of the right strains, the right quantity, and how the medicine was appropriate for me,” he says.
UVM’s Cannabis Online Program
Cannabis is now legal across the United States. Used as an alternative to medications for chronic pain and other conditions, cannabis is also the fastest growing industry in the country, with sales expected to reach over $10 billion in total this year.
UVM is the first medical school in the nation to offer a professional certificate in cannabis and medicine. The program helps professionals develop a broad understanding of cannabis and its medicinal use, with more advanced concepts relevant to biology and medicine in the context of the following objectives:
- Utilize a balanced academic approach to dispel myths surrounding the benefits and toxicities associated with cannabis use
- Discuss pharmacokinetics of cannabis for therapeutic use
- Explain to patients the best evidence-based indications for clinical use of cannabinoids and terpenes
- Identify the key legal issues around cannabis for therapeutic use
- Describe the pharmacology and toxicology of cannabis and cannabis-based products
- Critically review and assess the current evidence for safety and efficacy of Cannabis and cannabis-based products.
“I was impressed by the level of knowledge among the faculty at UVM,” Johnson says. “I am applying everything I learned in the program to help my illness. Cannabis is helping me, and thanks to UVM, people are amazed at how much I know.”