Higher education: SA's first medical cannabis academy launches

Cheeba Cannabis Academy believes knowledge is key if our budding medical marijuana industry is to compete in the global marketplace

10 June 2020 - 09:17 By Sanet Oberholzer
South Africa has work to do to catch up with the US, where doctors who have been working with cannabis for years, says Trenton Birch, co-founder of the Cheeba Cannabis Academy.
South Africa has work to do to catch up with the US, where doctors who have been working with cannabis for years, says Trenton Birch, co-founder of the Cheeba Cannabis Academy.
Image: 123RF/Teri Virbickis

Cannabis is touted as having many health benefits, from offering pain relief to assisting with hair loss. But what size dose should you take to treat which ailment? Does the strand and quality of the cannabis used matter? And how should you be taking it: should you smoke it, ingest it or use it in an oil form?

These are the kinds of questions the newly launched Cheeba Cannabis Academy aims to answer with its educational webinars and online courses, which are targeted at anyone interested in getting involved in SA's budding medical marijuana industry.

“This cannabis industry in SA has the potential to contribute significantly to our economy and job creation as legislation opens up. However, for it to truly realise its full potential we need to upskill as a nation to make sure that we can capitalise on its growth and compete on a global level,” explains Trenton Birch, co-founder of Cheeba.

The first e-learning platform of its kind in SA, Cheeba is run in partnership with a similar US-based institution called Medical Marijuana 411.

We spoke to Birch to find out more.

Why has Cheeba decided to partner with Medical Marijuana 411?

America is way ahead of us in terms of the industry. On the medical side, they have doctors who have been working with cannabis for years, so there is already deep experience and a wide brain pool on the subject matter.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we decided to partner with Medical Marijuana 411, who are the top online platform for medicinal cannabis education in the US, to ensure we are providing the most up-to-date and vetted information possible.

They have done some incredible work and worked with some of the top medical professionals in the industry to build their courses, so we really have top-quality content for our students.

We have, however, localised some of the content where necessary, as we also respect and understand that we are a different continent with our own frame of references and our own legislation.  

Is access to the Cheeba platform free or is there a charge related?

Our webinars are free, as long as you have signed up on our website. Access to our edutainment channel, Craft Cannabis TV, is also free. For those who want more formalised training, our paid-for online courses facilitate this opportunity.

We have tried to keep the cost of our courses affordable so that they are accessible to as many people as possible. Prices vary depending on whether you choose to self-learn or sign up for one of our bundle courses. These bundle courses allow you to self-learn at your own pace, but also to join online courses which help you network, share knowledge and ask questions.

What topics will the webinars cover?

Our first one covered medicinal cannabis, but we have a whole series lined up that will also cover growing, the general industry, and more specialised topics.   

Who will your speakers be and how will you select them?

Our head of training and facilitation, Jacqui Ramage, is a qualified pharmacist. Her particular areas of expertise are cultivation, regulation and education, as well as the medicinal cannabis space, so she is well-versed on a number of topics.

As far as other guest speakers and teachers go, we have deep connections in the industry so we will draw on this pool for different topics.   

How often will webinars and courses take place?

Our webinars will take place every three weeks. Our self-learn courses can be started whenever the student wants to and our bundle courses start every four weeks.  

Do you see more of these kinds of platforms starting up throughout Africa?

We hope so. There are a lot of people to teach and the more people offering quality education in this space, the better. It’s the only way our industry can truly grow.