Instructor Spotlight: Bia Carlini

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Take a Critical Look at Cannabis

While cannabis can certainly help a wide array of medical conditions, its status as a Schedule I drug for the past few decades have prohibited the kind of rigorous study that would give the community much-needed data.

In her work for the University of Washington, instructor Bia Carlini focuses on the benefits and drawbacks of medicinal cannabis, and is working to expand the knowledge, research, and understanding of it as a therapeutic option.

Her online course Cannabis Research and Health Risks provides an exceptional overview of the current research available, as well as known health risks so that folks in the medical cannabis community can be informed about the choices and therapeutic dosages they take.

Learn more about Bia's background and experience.

What is your educational / professional background?

I have a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and a Master's Degree in Public Health.

I started my career in the mid-80s in my home country, Brazil. From 1980 to the mid-2000s, I worked in two public universities in Sao Paulo and was involved in various international projects in the areas of substance abuse prevention and education.

I immigrated to the US in 2000 and currently work as a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI).

What other life experiences do you have that influence your curriculum?

I am an immigrant of Latino descent. I have an accent, I have darker skin. Being a minority is an opportunity to learn how mainstream society thinks and treats everything that is different.

I bring this life experience to my work, particularly around medicinal cannabis -- this is a topic that is not mainstream and is surrounded by curiosity, interest, suspicion, and passionate people who advocate for its cause.

Why is it important to you to offer your class at the Cannabis Institute?

I am proud to be involved in training professionals who will be helping patients struggling with chronic health conditions to find the medication that works best for them.

That being said, my class is an invitation to use critical thinking to ponder issues involving cannabis and the science surrounding it.

It addresses issues of how science is produced, why knowledge in this area is incomplete, and the current risks of cannabis as a medication that should be taken into account when embracing this therapeutic option.

Can you share an inspirational learning moment in your history?

Being my father's daughter: My dad is a Brazilian physician and scientist who was at the forefront of cannabis research in the mid-70s and 80s.

I learned from him that cannabis is a medication, I never thought as a recreational product.

My dad has published seminal work on cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy -- he is in his late 80s and he is an inspiration not only to me but to many people.

Bia's Favorites


  • My favorite hobby is to help abandoned/neglected cats. I have been a volunteer at Seattle Area Feline Rescue for more than five years now. I am an adoption counselor and love every minute of it.


  • One of my many favorite movies is the Dallas Buyers Club. Based on a true story, it talks about the courage and urgency of people struggling with some health conditions that don't have treatment approaches validated by US standards. It is about a man who fights for the right to get unapproved medications for AIDS, in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, despite the bureaucracy, politics, stigma, and scientific barriers surrounding the disease. It is very applicable in many ways to what happens to medicinal cannabis in contemporary America.


  • My favorite place to travel is -- not surprisingly -- Brazil. Visiting my home country makes me feel complete, gives me a full perspective of who I am. I love seeing my adult daughter, my dad, my sisters and brothers.