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From: "Tonya Davis" <email@example.com>
To: "Discussion List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>; "nonorml list"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 10:34 AM
Subject: NON: Cannabis in cap, gown at school
> Cannabis in cap, gown at school
> Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., provides training for jobs in
> medical marijuana industry
> Associated Press
> March 2, 2008
> OAKLAND, Calif. – You know you’re in a different kind of college when a
> teaching assistant sets five marijuana plants down in the middle of a lab
> and no one blinks a bloodshot eye.
> Welcome to Oaksterdam University, a new trade school where higher
> education takes on a whole new meaning.
> The school prepares people for jobs in California’s thriving medical
> marijuana industry. For $200 and the cost of two required textbooks,
> students learn how to cultivate and cook with cannabis, study which
> strains of marijuana are best for certain ailments and receive instruction
> in the legalities of a business that is against the law in the eyes of the
> federal government.
> "My basic idea is to try to professionalize the industry and have it taken
> seriously as a real industry, just like beer and distilling hard alcohol,"
> said Richard Lee, 45, an activist and marijuana-dispensary owner who
> founded the school in a downtown storefront last fall.
> Sixty students have completed the two-day weekend course, which is sold
> out through May. At the end of the class, students are given a take-home
> test, with the highest scorer – make that "top scorer" – earning the title
> of class valedictorian.
> Before getting to Horticulture 101, the hands-on highlight of Oaksterdam
> U., the 20 budding botanists, entrepreneurs and political activists at a
> recent weekend session sat politely through two law lectures and a
> visiting professor’s history talk.
> In the lab, Lee measured plant food into a plastic garbage can and
> explained how, with common sense, upgraded electrical outlets, a fan and
> an air filter, students can grow marijuana at home for fun, health, public
> service – or profit.
> Lee told his students how to prune and harvest plants, handing the
> clipping shears to a woman who wasn’t sure how close to the stalk to cut
> without damaging it. He offered his thoughts on which commercial nutrient
> preparations are best, as well as the advantages of hydroponics, or
> soil-free gardening.
> During a discussion of neighbor relations, he warned against setting booby
> traps to keep curious kids out of outdoor gardens.
> Students gave various reasons for enrolling. Some said they were curious.
> Others said they wanted tips for growing their own weed, although judging
> from the questions, a few were ready for the graduate seminar that Lee
> recently added to the curriculum.
> Jeff Sanders, 52, said he has been buying medical marijuana since 2003 and
> wants to open a dispensary in the San Joaquin Valley because he doesn’t
> like having to drive up to San Francisco and paying the markup.
> "I see it as a good thing," Sanders said. "You are giving back to the
> Patrick O’Shaughnessy, 37, said he started smoking marijuana regularly for
> the first time about a year ago to treat chronic migraines, depression and
> anxiety. After attending class, he said he felt more confident about
> growing his own, which he wants to do because the dispensary he frequents
> often sells out of his favorite strain.
> Oaksterdam U. draws its name from the jokey nickname for a section of
> Oakland where some of California’s earliest medical marijuana dispensaries
> took root. The nickname in turn was inspired by the city of Amsterdam in
> the Netherlands, where marijuana use is tolerated.
> At one point, the Oaksterdam neighborhood had at least 15 clubs and coffee
> shops selling marijuana, a number that dwindled to four when the city
> started issuing permits and collecting taxes from them a few years ago.
> California was the first of a dozen states that have legalized marijuana
> use for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Despite periodic raids by
> federal drug agents and the threat of prosecution, clubs and cooperatives
> where customers can buy the drug of their choice have proliferated;
> California has 300 to 400, according to advocacy groups.
> Entry-level workers are paid a little more than minimum wage, while "bud
> tenders" can make more than $50,000 a year, and owners and top managers
> more than $100,000, Lee said. But there’s also a certain amount of risk –
> and not just financial, but legal.
> Michael Chapman, an assistant agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement
> Administration’s San Francisco office, said authorities are aware of
> Oaksterdam U. and don’t see any reason to shut it down. Talking about
> marijuana is not illegal, and while a small amount of marijuana is kept on
> the premises, the DEA tries "to concentrate our case work on the most
> significant violators," he said.
> Still, Chapman said he doesn’t like Lee’s effort to wrap cannabis
> education in a cap and gown.
> "I think they are sending the wrong message out to the community and it’s
> something that could only facilitate criminal behavior," he said.
> Tonya Davis
> Medical Cannabis Director
> North Ohio NORML
> Director of Patient Advocacy
> Ohio Patient Network
> State Director Ohio AAMC
> The medical cannabis Action network
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