Cutting Edge Majors – The Medical Marijuana Industry?

Tuesday, Mar. 9th 2010 7:22 PM

Once upon a time, it was lumped together with the harshest of drugs. But in recent years marijuana has started claiming a new place in society.

As states continue to enact medical marijuana usage legislation, those responsible for implementing the new laws have been charged with designing growth and distribution requirements and protocols. The result is an emerging industry that some think could one day rival a significant sector of the pharmaceutical industry.

As a student, dare we even say it, you may be interested in knowing there is a college that features training in this emerging field.

Oaksterdam University

Founded in November 2007 by Richard Lee, Oaksterdam University sounds like a high school dropout’s dream. The school began with an “extremely provocative advertisement in the East Bay Express proclaiming ‘Cannabis Industry Now Hiring’.”

cannabis adInspired by his visit to the cannabis college in Amsterdam, Lee envisioned a school that offered a different program than the horticulture focus of the college in Amsterdam.

While offering a program that still does fundamental study in horticulture, Lee expanded on the cannabis college idea to create a trade school. His idea was to try to legitimize the cannabis industry, particularly as it relates to the field of medical marijuana.

According to the school’s web site, “20 lucky and trailblazing students packed into a small classroom in Oaksterdam located on 15th Street” in what was to be the first official course offering. That class reportedly was taught by some of the biggest names in the cannabis industry: Chris Conrad, Richard Lee, Lawrence Lichter, and Dennis Peron.

Soon armed with a 3-month waiting list for class openings, the school began expanding. As class sizes grew, course offerings grew in frequency and in format.

In 2008, Lee opened a satellite school in Los Angeles. Later, when Michigan passed its medical cannabis law, Oaksterdam University brought its program to Ann Arbor and held the first Michigan class in May of 2009.

Shortly thereafter, the latest campus, North Bay in Sebastopol, California was opened. And in November of 2009 the main campus branch moved to a sprawling 30,000 sq.ft. campus at 1600 Broadway, in Oakland. The new campus is home to numerous classrooms, two auditoriums, a grow lab, and a theater.

Course Programs

Oaksterdam University offers two distinctive formats. For those with a casual interest, the school offers a number of weekend seminars at $250 per seminar.

For those with a desire to learn more about cannabis, the school also offers a comprehensive Semester Program called the Classic Semester. This format meets once a week for 13 weeks with two and a half hours of instruction per class (a total of roughly 32 hours of instruction) and costs $650.

In addition to expert instructors and the guest speakers, each week also includes a comprehensive grow lab experience. According to the Oaksterdam site, accomplished horticulturists walk students, week-by-week, through growing their first garden.

Those students choosing the Semester Course may earn a number of certificates. The school offers two fundamental certificates: a Certificate of Attendance for those who attend all classes and a Certificate of Completion for those who attend all classes, complete the midterm and pass the final.

In addition, for the more industrious, the school offers a Certificate of Completion with Honors. To receive such designation a student must also complete all weekly homework assignments and attend a field trip, in addition to the basic attendance and exam criteria. Lastly, a Certificate of Achievement with Honors is awarded to the Class Valedictorian, and in some cases, to those demonstrating “extraordinary levels of valor and volunteerism.”

iStock_000009641014XSmallFor those wondering more about the curriculum, the Classic Semester offers an eclectic mix of topics including two Horticulture offerings: Horticulture and Horticulture: Advanced Grow. It also offers several legal units including: Federal Vs State Law; Legal Rights; and a Know Your Rights workshop.

As for an understanding of the medical marijuana industry, other units offered include Politics & History; Patient Relations (formerly Budtending); Dispensary Operations (formerly Dispensary Management); and Procurement & Allocation (formerly Distribution),

In addition, time is spent on three Methods of Ingestion offerings: Extracts; Cooking (includes a step-by-step tutorial on how to make cannabutter); and Vaporizing. There is also a science offering called The Science of Cannabis (formerly Medical Cannabis) as well as two business based offerings: Economic$ and Cannabusiness: Legal Business Structures.

The goal of the program is simple – to help a student either prepare for
employment in a dispensary or to start a business of their own.

Interested Students

Students interested in enrolling will be pleased to learn that admission is essentially first paid, first served. No one is interested in your GPA, or your SAT scores. There is no need to have a wealth of extracurricular activities on your resume – the school doesn’t even ask for a resume.

But if you think it is all a walk in the park you may want to think again. If you are worried that your well-to-do uncle may disown you for selecting this career path you need to understand that your real, personal information must be included on your enrollment form. A failure to provide accurate information (no fictitious names like Token White) could result in your being denied a seat in the class.

And unfortunately, there are no scholarships available. Oaksterdam University indicates it needs your tuition to cover expenses. The school currently does not offer any online courses.

iStock_000011882614XSmallAnd there is also that matter of a test, albeit optional, for those students who want certification from Oaksterdam University. To pass, students need a score of 75% or better.

Lastly, there are required textbooks: Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible, by Jorge Cervantes ($29.95 + tax), and Buds For Less, by SeeMoreBuds ($18.95 + tax). There is also a required DVD purchase: Busted! Flex Your Rights ($16.00 + tax).

Worse yet, there is even recommended supplemental texts if you are serious about the subject. They are not required mind you, just suggestions to expand your education. They include the Marijuana Medical Handbook, the Big Book of Buds Version 3, the Marijuana Garden Saver, Ask Ed, Marijuana Gold: Trash to Stash, Marijuana Cooking: Good Medicine Made Easy, and Organic Marijuana, Soma Style: The Pleasures of Cultivating Connoisseur Cannabis.

Most importantly, those who take their out of school studies/experiments/time too seriously need to understand that class attendance is expected. Refunds are not available for missed classes unless 7 days prior notice is provided (apparently planned parties may work).

A Leg Up?

And when it comes to promises, the school makes no pretenses about the certification that students can earn. When it comes to applying for a job at a dispensary, the school “hopes” that the certification program will give a student an advantage in the selection process over someone who is not certified.

Posted by Thomas | in Applying to College, Fun Facts | 6 Comments »

6 comments on "Cutting Edge Majors – The Medical Marijuana Industry?"

  • Great article! Too bad this wasn’t offered a few years back…but hey, better late than never right? 🙂

  • Nice to see that it is being taken seriously by an ever widening section of the pharmaceutical industry and by consumers at large.

    One question though: how legal is this at present? Do these students try to grow at home and what happens to that? Are the plants they grow ‘in college’ protected by an educational remit, or a medical or pharmaceutical dispensation?

  • Just wondering if anyone has taken any of these classes and if so do you know if someone could aquire a student loan to attend this college?

  • @Adam: I’m pretty sure that you have to have your medical Marijuana card to even take the courses. If you have that you’re allowed to grow a limited number of plants.

    @Nick: Not much reason for student loans. A semester of courses costs about $750 (not including text books), less than I used to pay for community college. I’m attending next month.

  • Is their any course like this in England Or Holland That i could go to???

    Instead or travelling to America??

  • This school is not accredited and the information they offer can be obtained for free from volunteering your time at a collective (working for free) or at a similar grow operation. There are so may people trying to get into the burgeoning industry of medical marijuana (esp. in CA) that there is no shortage of people willing to fill menial positions in the industry. If one is lucky enough to get a job after taking this course, it will most likely be as a budtender or delivery person making $10/hr. And while the price seems cheap compared to a community college or university, keep in mind that the entire semester is only 32 hours of instruction. This is less hours required for a single class for a traditional semester at an accredited university. In short, it’s a nice thing for stoners to do in their free time and to indulge their hobby, but don’t expect to make a lucrative career out of weed simply by attending this course.

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