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  1. chillinwill
    At most colleges, marijuana is very much an extracurricular matter. But at Med Grow Cannabis College, marijuana is the curriculum: the history, the horticulture and the legal how-to’s of Michigan’s new medical marijuana program.

    “This state needs jobs, and we think medical marijuana can stimulate the state economy with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars,” said Nick Tennant, the 24-year-old founder of the college, which is actually a burgeoning business (no baccalaureates here) operating from a few bare-bones rooms in a Detroit suburb.

    The six-week, $485 primer on medical marijuana is a cross between an agricultural extension class covering the growing cycle, nutrients and light requirements (“It’s harvest time when half the trichomes have turned amber and half are white”) and a gathering of serious potheads, sharing stories of their best highs (“Smoke that and you are ... medicated!”).

    The only required reading: “Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible” by Jorge Cervantes.

    Even though the business of growing medical marijuana is legal under Michigan’s new law, there is enough nervousness about the enterprise that most students at a recent class did not want their names or photographs used. An instructor also asked not to be identified.

    “My wife works for the government,” one student said, “and I told my mother-in-law I was going to a small-business class.”

    While California’s medical marijuana program, the country’s oldest, is now big business, with hundreds of dispensaries in Los Angeles alone, the Michigan program, which started in April, is more representative of what is happening in other states that have legalized medical marijuana.

    Under the Michigan law, patients whose doctors certify their medical need for marijuana can grow up to 12 cannabis plants themselves or name a “caregiver” who will grow the plants and sell the product. Anyone over 21 with no felony drug convictions can be a caregiver for up to five patients. So far, the Department of Community Health has registered about 5,800 patients and 2,400 caregivers.

    For Mr. Tennant, who is certified as both a caregiver and a patient — he said he has stomach problems and anxiety — Med Grow replaces the auto detailing business he started straight out of high school, only to see it founder when the economy contracted. Med Grow began offering its course in September, with new classes starting every month.

    On a recent Tuesday, two teachers led a four-hour class, starting with Todd Alton, a botanist who provided no tasting samples as he talked the students through a list of cannabis recipes, including crockpot cannabutter, chocolate canna-ganache and greenies (the cannabis alternative to brownies).

    The second instructor, who would not give his name, took the class through the growing cycle, the harvest and the curing techniques to increase marijuana’s potency.

    Mr. Tennant said he saw the school as the hub of a larger business that will sell supplies to its graduate medical marijuana growers, offer workshops and provide a network for both patient and caregiver referrals. Already, Med Grow is a gathering place for those interested in medical marijuana. The whiteboard in the reception room lists names and numbers of several patients looking for caregivers, and a caregiver looking for patients.

    The students are a diverse group: white and black, some in their 20s, some much older, some employed, some not. Some keep their class attendance, and their growing plans, close to the chest.

    “I’ve just told a couple of people I can trust,” said Jeffery Butler, 27. “It’s a business opportunity, but some people are still going to look at you funny. But I’m going to do it anyway.”

    Scott Austin, an unemployed 41-year-old student, said he and two partners were planning to go into medical marijuana together.

    “I never smoked marijuana in my life,” he said. “I heard about this at a business expo a couple of months ago.”

    Because the Michigan program is so new, gray areas in the law have not been tested, creating real concern for some students. For example, it is not legal to start growing marijuana before being officially named a caregiver to a certified patient, but patients who are sick, certified and ready to buy marijuana generally do not want to wait through the months of the growing cycle until a crop is ready. So for the time being, coordinating entry into the business feels to some like a kind of Catch-22.

    Students say they are getting all kinds of extra help and ideas from going to class.

    “I want to learn all the little tricks, everything I can,” said Sue Maxwell, a student who drives each week from her home four hours north of Detroit. “It’s a big investment, and I want to do it right.”

    Ms. Maxwell, who works at a bakery, is already a caregiver — in the old, nondrug sense of the word — to a few older people for whom she thinks medical marijuana might be a real boon.

    “I fix their meals, and I help with housekeeping,” Ms. Maxwell said. “I have an 85-year-old lady who has no appetite. I don’t know if she’d have any interest in medical marijuana, but I bet it would help her.”

    Ms. Maxwell said her plan to grow marijuana was slow in hatching.

    “We were talking at the bakery all summer,” she said. “Just joking around, I said: ‘I’m going to grow medical marijuana. I’m a gardener, I’ve always dreamed of having a greenhouse, I think it would be great.’ And then I suddenly thought, hey, I really am going to grow medical marijuana.”

    By TAMAR LEWIN
    November 29, 2009
    NY Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/education/29marijuana.html?_r=1&em

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  1. chillinwill
    Cannabis Colleges Crop Up: New Institutions for 'Higher' Learning

    Thousands Learn How to Grow Legal Medical Marijuana

    Don't expect to pull an all-nighter at Med Grow Cannabis College.
    [IMGR="white"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=11843&stc=1&d=1259622754[/IMGR]
    Michigan's first training center for medical marijuana education doesn't ask students for their homework. There are no final exams.

    "We're more of a trade school," said Nick Tennant, Med Grow's 24-year-old founder.

    As states loosen their medical marijuana laws, institutions such as Med Grow are sprouting up, looking to educate potential caregivers about how to enter the cannabis industry the legal way.

    Tennant opened the doors of Med Grow's 4,800-square-foot facility near Detroit in September, about 10 months after voters approved the state's medical marijuana act.

    Always wanting to be his own boss, Tennant had dropped out of college to manage valet and auto-detail companies. But when his businesses contracted under the smothering recession, he looked to the medical marijuana industry for his next opportunity, months before the measure was up for public vote.

    "We knew the law was going to get passed," he said.

    In addition to Michigan, 12 states have legalized medical marijuana use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

    Tennant fashioned part of his business model after California's Oaksterdam University, which claims to be the country's first cannabis college, opening in 2007.

    Oaksterdam has three campuses in California: Oakland, Los Angeles and North Bay. Spokeswoman Salwa Ibrahim said the institution, which staffs about 50 employees, has graduated about 5,500 students. Oaksterdam welcomes the country's new crop of cannabis colleges, she said.

    "We welcome competition," she said. "Ultimately, what we're trying to do is change laws locally and federally."

    Hawaii activist Roger Christie says he connects the high he sustains from marijuana use as a "spiritual" ritual, a practice he believes is legal under First Amendment religion protections. He has been an advocate of marijuana use and legalization for 23 years, he said.

    Only recently did he add educational outreach to his Hawaii Cannabis Ministry. After reading a news story about a continental cannabis college, he decided to add monthly seminars to his ministry's repertoire this fall.

    So far, he has educated about 60 people over two weekend seminars. A $100 donation covers the cost of classes and a hemp seed lunch.

    "We train people to grow people to grow the best cannabis humanly possible," Christie said.

    Med Grow students cover an array of topics related to the budding industry over semester-long courses or seminars. The curriculum covers proper cultivation and breeding, cooking tips and recipes, how to start a care-giving business and Cannabis History 1010. "Students should feel very confident that they're going to succeed," Tennant said.

    Tennant's school employs 12 people, he said. About 60 students are taking courses during this cycle. Med Grow's five-week semester program, which offers two tracks convening on Monday or Wednesday nights, costs $475.

    Unlike accredited academic institutions, there is no standard of practices for cannabis colleges in Michigan. Tennant provides his graduates with a paper certificate anyway.

    It isn't required, but a student could use it to establish credibility as a professional caregiver, proving he or she is "not just some Joe Shmoe off the street," he said.

    Graduates of Tennant's college won't be leaving their training to set up mass dispensaries. Under Michigan law, state-registered caregivers are only allowed to provide marijuana to a maximum of five patients.

    In California, students of cannabis colleges have a few more options, Ibrahim said. Students come from out-of-state to become lobbyists, dispensary managers as well as caregivers.

    "They can do whatever they want to do," she said.

    Trey Daring, 26, moved to Daly City, Calif., after graduating from Old Dominion University, in Virginia, to work as an advocate for the cannabis movement.

    His favorite course is advanced horticulture -- it's the most useful, he said. He'll graduate in mid-December.

    Daring's parents are uneasy about his advocacy of the drug because marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, the government's most restrictive category that also includes LSD, ecstasy and heroin, he said.

    "I feel like they're understanding now but not necessarily proud," he said.

    His classrooms are not that much different from ones he had in high school and college: dry-erase boards, PowerPoint presentations and knowledgeable instructors.

    Perhaps the part that's most different is his classmates.

    "There are a lot more people over 30 than probably outsiders would believe," he said.

    Med Grow students also run the demographic gamut. Tennant said his pupils include 18-year-old high school graduates, a 60-year-old pastor and former clients of his old auto-detailing business, some of whom find themselves struggling to keep their own businesses afloat.

    His instructors stress that their curriculum is for medicinal purposes only, not recreational tips, he said.

    "I run a very tight operation here," he said.

    The medical marijuana industry could potentially help Michigan's battered economy, provided it is not abused, Tennant said.

    Ibrahim of California's Oaksterdam University also sees cannabis as a way to contribute positively to a state's economy. Oaksterdam's Oakland campus recently moved into a 30,000-square-foot building and, she said, the school expects to educate about 1,000 students a month, double the capacity of the previous space.

    "It really is flourishing in this economy," she said. "We're evidence of it. We just moved into a larger facility when everything else seems to be downsizing."

    By KATIE SANDERS
    November 30, 2009
    ABC News
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SmallB...ical-marijuana-colleges-crop/story?id=9154672
  2. questforstarfish
    That is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Medical marijuana needs to be seriously considered by the government and is being made even better by people like this- kudos to this school!!
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