The phrase "cannabis college" may sound like a joke, but as legalization movements spread across the United States to allow medical and/or recreational marijuana, cannabis colleges are becoming a part of that institution. Oaksterdam University is just one example.
What is a Cannabis College?
There are a number of accredited universities that have been slowly adding cannabis-related classes to their curriculums, such as University of Denver, Ohio State, and even Harvard. However, a cannabis college is an institution or online course curriculum completely centered around the marijuana industry.
They are not colleges as we think of them, but rather programs that grant knowledge and certification to those already involved in or hoping to enter the industry. Cannabis colleges teach things like cultivation, medical education, marijuana law and policy, physiology of cannabis, horticulture, general business, sustainability, neuroscience, and more. Some courses are taught in short seminars, while others actually follow a semester-style system.
The Original Cannabis College
The very first cannabis college, simply called the Cannabis College, is located in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. It resides in the city's famous Red Light District and was established in 1998 by a group known as "Green Prisoners Release." They campaigned for the ability to freely cultivate cannabis and formed the Cannabis College as a part of that effort, seeking to create a space devoted to showcasing information and benefits of the plant.
It's not your typical college, obviously, but the goal of the foundation is to "provide you with accurate, objective information about the Cannabis sativa L. plant." There is information about both recreational and medical marijuana for users and non-users, as well as a functioning garden that showcases organic indoor growing.
The Cannabis College is still open and has become relatively well-known to those in Amsterdam and to those in the industry; its success as a source of education has inspired worldwide efforts of the same type, and there are now many centers across the United States that serve the same purpose.
If there are many cannabis colleges nowadays, why mention Oaksterdam University? Because it's the first in America. The marijuana-centered school in Oakland, California was founded with inspiration from the original Cannabis College in Amsterdam – hence the origin of the name "Oaksterdam." The founder, Richard Lee, started the university in 2007, seeking to "legitimize the business and work to change the law to make cannabis legal."
While it began in Oakland, there were multiple campuses established in places like Michigan and Los Angeles, as well. Today, only the Oakland campus remains, but Oaksterdam has been known to travel to cities across the country in order to conduct educational seminars.
Unsurprisingly, Oaksterdam College faced some initial backlash, with many anti-marijuana figures and organizations claiming that it promoted criminal behavior and similar negative effects. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been notoriously against it, but as more and more research surfaces that highlight the benefits of cannabis, opinions have come around.
A student at Oaksterdam can learn in either a 14-week semester format or a two-day to four-day intense seminar format. There are two main programs available; in the first, one studies a broad range of subjects relating to the cannabis industry – legal issues, history, politics, economics, etc. In the second, one takes horticulture classes to learn specifically about growing marijuana.
Courses offered at Oaksterdam may feel a bit expensive, ranging in price from $545-1295, not including an application fee, but it can certainly provide a leg up in the business if you come with a formal education on cannabis. Basically, the industry has a lot more complex moving parts than it may seem at first glance, so it is important to have some knowledge of a wide range of subjects that may affect marijuana.
Oaksterdam University has become a fairly reputable establishment, continuing to draw inspiration from the success of its Amsterdam counterpart, and it has graduated over 25,000 students overall.
Other Cannabis Colleges
Aside from Oaksterdam University, a variety of institutions can provide education about cannabis.
The Cannabis Career Institute was founded by a man originally a teacher at Oaksterdam. This cannabis college focuses specifically on "maintaining compliance with laws and regulations." It is a bit less expensive than Oaksterdam, offering one-day courses to become certified in cultivation, business management, budtending, dispensary management, or edibles operation.
Another reputable school is The Trichome Institute based in Colorado, which focuses on "interpening," or identifying strains, similar to how people learn to identify wines. Budtending and sales courses are also offered, and they usually run in monthly seminars or online.
Online schools like Cannabis Training University and THC University are good options for those needing a flexible schedule and a variety of certification subject options, such as cooking, delivery, safety, and the like.
Anyone can go to cannabis college, and the more than legalization movements spread, the more prevalent these colleges may become across the country. Whether it's at Oaksterdam, the Cannabis College, or another school, it's important for those inside and outside the industry to know the ins and outs of cannabis.