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Cannabis 101: Students Learn About Medical Marijuana

Herb Fellow

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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 an eye.

Welcome to Oaksterdam University, the school that 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 it are best for certain ailments, and are instructed 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 pot-dispensary owner who founded the school in a downtown storefront last fall.

So far, 60 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. The person with the top score is named class valedictorian.

Before getting to the hands-on highlight of Oaksterdam U, the 20 budding botanists, entrepreneurs and political activists at a recent class 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 pot at home for fun, health, public service - or profit.

Lee told his students how to prune and harvest plants. He offered his thoughts on which commercial nutrient preparations are best, as well as the advantages of hydroponics, or soil-free gardening.

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, but 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. You are giving back to the community," Sanders said.

Patrick O'Shaughnessy, 37, said he started smoking pot regularly for the first time about a year ago to treat his 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.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal
Copyright: 2008, The Associated Press
Contact: The Associated Press
Website: Winston-Salem Journal | Cannabis 101: Students learn about medical marijuana

Herb Fellow

New Member
Wouldn't that be a powerful positions, to be able to decide what news goes on CNN! We could have fun.
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