Marijuana university offers ‘higher’ education

OAKLAND, June 4, 2008 (AFP) – A private San Francisco area university dedicated to the study of the cannabis industry is giving a whole new meaning to higher education.

At Oaksterdam University — so called after the nickname locals have given to Oakland — students learn how to grow, harvest and cook marijuana, as well as dispense it to others.

The goal, say administrators, is to educate consumers about the benefits of the mind-altering plant and encourage graduates to start their own dispensaries in California, even though possession remains prohibited under federal law.

The university, which is modeled on a similar school in Amsterdam, opened in November and has recently begun offering classes in Los Angeles.

On a recent day, a group of students gathered in a former pharmacy in downtown Oakland for a class that included topics such as the politics of marijuana, horticulture and bud tending.

Bikers with ponytails and tattoos sat next to middle-aged women and took notes as a series of lecturers spoke about the history of the drug.

Later, students took part in role plays about what to do if stopped by a police officer and then learned about