Thursday, November 12, 2009

Michigan's Cannabis College

Michigan's cannabis college is quite a joint

Andrea Billups
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. Nearly a year after voters in this economically
disadvantaged state overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative approving
the consumption of medicinal marijuana, a new trade school has opened
its doors to educate aspiring growers.

Med Grow Cannabis College, located in the Detroit suburb of Southfield,
is set to graduate its first class of students later this month. Its
co-founder and president, Nick Tennant, the 24-year-old son of a General
Motors Corp. employee, said he sees a significant opportunity to teach
standards and safety in an industry that can eventually improve the
state's sagging business climate.

"This is profitable and poised for tremendous growth," Mr. Tennant said.

Although some might jokingly call him the dope dean, Mr. Tennant is
serious, even as his appearance is blond, hip and wholesome.

"A lot of people think you can pick up a book, put some seeds in the
soil, shine some lights and you'll have a crop," he said of the
information needed to grow pot well. "But there are so many variables,
and it's like a trade to grow it -- with skills like a master plumber or
electrician. "

So far, there doesn't seem to be any opposition to this trade school.

In a spacious facility featuring a lab, a classroom and growing rooms,
students take a six-week night course that covers botany, horticulture,
business, law, history -- even cooking with a trained chef who teaches
how pot can be included with such dishes as sushi -- all in an effort to
cultivate quality medical-grade marijuana.

Roger McDaniel, a disabled carpenter and former semitrailer mechanic,
and his wife, Valeri, from Taylor, Mich., are taking the classes. They
said the education is far more in-depth than they ever imagined.

Mr. McDaniel, 53, who was injured in a motorcycle accident, said
marijuana has helped ease his symptoms in a more natural way than
prescription medications. He and his wife enjoy gardening and said the
course work is an extension of their interests as well as a way to
improve their quality of life.

"Instead of living on all these pills, the Vicodins and Lortabs that
tear up your insides, this gives you the pain relief and you are not
damaging your body with all these chemicals," Mr. McDaniel said of his
medical marijuana use.

Most surprising about the classes? "The whole walk of folks we've come
across there," Mrs. McDaniel said. "It's just a real mesh of people -
from young folks to people our age."

Perry Belcher, who lives near Flint, Mich., teaches the History of
Cannabis class at Med Grow and said he's interested in providing facts
-- not talking politics -- even as the issue has divided the nation.

"As a patient, I can testify to the results of this," he said. "I want
to make sure that they get the best knowledge."

Mr. Belcher added that marijuana has been used medicinally since 6000
B.C. and by many cultures around the world. But he said only in the 20th
century did it become a prohibition issue and was demonized as harmful.
Now, he said, with more states enacting medical marijuana laws, the
culture around its importance medically is changing.

"The first part of my class is called the pros and cons," he said. "I
let people make the decision on their own on whether they feel this is
right or not."

Mr. Tennant, a native of Center Line, Mich., came up with the idea for
Med Grow in April with the intention to launch a school where aspiring
growers could learn the right way to cultivate clean, high-quality pot.
By May, he and partner Nathan Johnston, who serves as the school's
director of horticulture, had a business plan to go along with their
entrepreneurial drive.

After advertising in area publications and through social networking
sites, the first class of 30 students began on Sept. 14 in an office
that was transformed into a classroom, where students could train on
high-tech equipment. Courses are held on weeknights from 6 to 10 p.m.,
and the cost of the class is $475.

Among the members of Med Grow's first class are two reverends, including
one minister who works in an AIDS ministry and wanted to learn more
about how marijuana can ease symptoms of that disease.

Mr. Tennant said interest is high as more patients and caregivers
embrace the new Michigan law, which was passed 63 percent to 37 percent
by statewide ballot initiative in November 2008 and is being watched by
advocates in other Midwestern states. It allows patients who have
received a doctor's permission to legally possess 2.5 ounces of medical
marijuana and to keep 12 marijuana plants for their personal use. It
also allows residents to apply to be caregivers who can grow and
distribute marijuana for up to five people who have state permits to use

Through Oct. 1, more than 6,500 Michigan residents have received
state-issued permits to grow and use marijuana to help alleviate
symptoms of certain medical problems, according to the Michigan
Department of Community Health. Spokesman James McCurtis Jr. said his
agency is receiving 59 applications for permits per day and that number
is rising.

Med Grow is not the nation's first marijuana growing school.
California's Oaksterdam University was founded in 2007 and has campuses
in Oakland, Los Angeles and North Bay, where students are taught growing
techniques as well as the business of the marijuana industry.

Greg Francisco, executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana
Association, said that he, too, is involved with teaching courses as
part of a traveling seminar series from the North American Cultivator
College. He travels across the state to teach seminars with a
credentialed faculty much the same as those at Med Grow.

"Teaching is really important," Mr. Francisco said. "People really want
to know how they can grow this medicine and help patients."

http://www.washingt news/2009/ nov/11/michigans -cannabis- colle\
ge-is-quite- a-joint/

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