Meet Oaksterdam University: America’s First Cannabis College
Oaksterdam University offers students a slightly different undergrad experience than most schools. Instead of being forced to take sh*tty required classes like English 101, Chem 101, and World History, Oaksterdam students take classes like Cooking with Cannabis, History of Marijuana, Dispensary Operations, and Careers in Cannabis.
That’s because Oaksterdam University is the first cannabis college in the United States. OU was founded by Richard Lee in November of 2007 in Oakland, California after he visited a cannabis college in Amsterdam and became inspired to bring a similar concept to the U.S.
“Rather than emulate the college in Amsterdam where curriculum mainly surrounds horticulture,” OU’s website explains, “Lee decided to expand upon the idea and create a curriculum that focuses on the entire cannabis trade.”
“Wanting to further legitimize the cannabis industry, Lee’s school quickly gained the attention of local, national, and even international media.” With all the media attention OU received, the school quickly grew to include campuses in Oakland, Los Angeles, Sebastopol, and Michigan.
But not all the attention the school received was positive. On April 2, 2012 OU’s Oakland campus was raided by the IRS, the DEA, and the US Marshals Service. DEA officials justified the raid by saying that the school “sends the wrong message in the country’s fight against drugs and promotes criminal activity.”
Law enforcement seized the school’s assets, and many feared it would never open again. But Oaksterdam bounced back. While it now maintains only its primary campus in Oakland, the school has expanded its curriculum to teach people how to move into the burgeoning cannabis industry from pretty much any angle imaginable: cultivation, production, shipping, retail, law, science, and more.
It also offers online courses and short seminars throughout the country. Most recently, Oaksterdam received significant media attention when The San Francisco Business Times highlighted it as one of the Bay Area’s “23 budding cannabis startups to watch.”
“We are seeing so many more people from all walks of life that see cannabis and want to build a thriving business,” OU’s executive chancellor and director Dale Sky Jones said. “It really feels like a different environment than it has for so may previous years and it is all happening here in Oakland.”
If gen eds, sorority parties, and football games aren’t really your jam, OU just might have what you’re looking for.