Cannabis 101? It may be legal, but few colleges offer marijuana curriculum

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — With recreational marijuana now legal in California and many other states, the cannabis industry is considered one of the fastest growing job sectors in the U.S.

But right only a few California colleges and universities are offering classes related to this budding business.

An instructor at Pleasant Hill’s Diablo Valley College is showing students enrolled in the horticulture department’s controlled growth class the greenhouse farming method of hydroponics — a practice popular in indoor pot farming.

But the herbs she’s talking about is basil. They also practice on microgreens. Cannabis isn’t even mentioned in the course description and that’s for a reason.

“We are in fact a drug-free campus so we can’t be growing cannabis,” the instructor said. Despite that this class is totally full, DVC’s only horticulture course that can make that claim.

“We know, pardon the pun, that it’s a budding industry and that there is going to be a lot of jobs out there.”

It was offered for credit this semester as an experiment and will be made a permanent part of their program next year. At this point it’s too soon to say if they’ll ever create a specific cannabis curriculum.

“I think right now the culture shift slowly might be to open up some programs that are actually teaching techniques and preparing students and potential employees,” the instructor said.

Very few accredited California universities or colleges KRON4 checked with offer any kind of education classes related to cannabis.

Even up in the emerald triangle, Humboldt State established an institute of marijuana research several years ago, though their website states they only promote the scientific study of cannabis issues but offer no classes or training.

Other schools located in popular pot growing areas like Sonoma State University or UC Santa Cruz say they depend too much on federal research dollars to take the risk.

“Because it is too dangerous, as long as this is a schedule one drug, they are likely to be targeted to lose funding and the ability to serve other important issues that they’re trying to do,” said Dale Sky, the executive chancellor with Oaksterdam University, a cannabis college in Oakland.

The college has been providing hands on weed training for over a decade. Despite being raided by law enforcement in 2012 they are firmly rooted in the belief that cannabis education needs to be embraced by mainstream institutions of higher learning.

“It’s vital that for universities and community colleges to offer cannabis with respect to different professions,” he said. Not all of the students taking DVC’s controlled growth class have their hearts set on becoming professional pot farmers.

“I’m really interested in still homeopathic medicine [and] right now cannabis is the biggest thing,” said one student. “I’ll probably end up doing that.”

But they realize the fast growing cannabis job market might be their best bet for success.

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