UAF offers class new cannabis chemistry class

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Starting in spring of 2019 the University of Alaska Fairbanks is offering a new course to students with prior college chemistry background. The course called Chem–293 is on the basic principles and chemical and physical properties of cannabis.

Kelly Drew professor of chemistry and bio-chemistry at UAF spoke about the course.

"There are many other derivatives. Synthetics molecules that have been developed to mimic what is found naturally, but there is not, I don't think from at this point, that I'm aware of, that there is a lot of peer reviewed literature on the natural products of cannabis," said Drew.

She wants to go beyond what is known in peer reviewed literature, but a lot of research is restricted where federal funds are involved.

"Most research institutes like the university rely heavily on federal funding, and so they have not yet had access to do a lot of research on the natural products," she said.

The class will be looking at good laboratory standards and following the scientific method highlighted in peer reviewed literature.

"It's the first that I think focuses on the chemistry, and of course we'll also touch on techniques used on the testing and anaclitic procedures and laboratory practice and all the things that are very fundamental to chemistry and a degree in chemistry but that applies to the cannabis industry," said Drew.

She also plans to discuss some of the economic and social factors and medicinal aspects.

"We'll certainly talk about the pharmacology about the different classes of receptors that THC interacts with. CBD is especially interesting because we don't really understand the mechanism of action. The medicinal properties of the plant is really an exciting area, and again, that's where we are lacking peer reviewed, double blind clinical trials, everything that you would get from traditional industry of pharmaceutics," she said.

Other experts studying plants and herbs on campus are also looking at research on blueberries and a variety of other natural products are being studied for medicinal purposes at the university. Drew is looking forward to gathering those same principles to cannabis plants. She wants those who are interested to know this is not a botany or micro–biology class.

"We will not have any access to the actual plant or material of any kind. It's all just book work, you know, literature," Drew said.

She hopes this class will inspire students to further their interest in chemistry.