Auckland University of Technology (AUT) will become the first in New Zealand to offer a course in medicinal cannabis to post-graduate students from next week.

The Science of Medicinal Cannabis course leader and senior lecturer in drug delivery at AUT’s School of Science Dr Ali Seyfoddin said: “It’s essential that research and education providers provide courses for those wishing to enter the industry.”

Since April 1, New Zealanders have been able to legally access medicinal cannabis via prescription under the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. The scheme also makes it easier to produce medicines in New Zealand, or import them.

As well as the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, the course covers the chemistry of cannabinoids, the history and legislation of medicinal cannabis, cultivation, delivery systems and dosing.

Dr Seyfoddin said the course would suit postgraduate students or healthcare professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of medicinal cannabis through theory and practice.

Chief executive of AUT’s research partner ZeaCann Chris Fowlie said the industry needs qualified staff with relevant expertise.

“Hundreds of new jobs are expected to be created in the field, with the potential for medicinal cannabis exports to rival those of wine or wool,” he added.

On September 20, New Zealanders will vote in a non-binding referendum to legalise the sale, use, possession and production of cannabis.