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Garberville marijuana university aims to teach sustainable, organic growing

When Southern Humboldt residents Kellie Dodds and Pearl Moon took the advanced class at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, they discovered the class wasn’t advanced enough for them.

”We went there and we were just disappointed that we knew so much more, coming from here,” Dodds said.

A Proposition 215 patient with a vision for cannabis education, Dodds said she wants to create a school that will focus on the sustainable, organic growing of medical cannabis, and not just focus on indoor growing techniques.

”I’ve looked at every cannabis college or school in California and outside — I’ve looked at Michigan, Washington, Oregon — and they all are focusing on the same thing, which is how to open up a dispensary or become a caregiver,” Dodds said. “It is honorable and I appreciate that, but there is more.”

To offer another approach to cannabis education, Dodds and Moon have started 707 Cannabis College in Garberville. While the school hopes to start holding classes in the fall, it is having a kick-off event Saturday at the Mateel Community Center from noon to 6 p.m.

The 707 Cannabis College Expo features some longtime cannabis activists who established precedents for today’s medical marijuana industry, said Ellen Komp, California Deputy Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, who will be teaching the law and history portion of the beginner’s class for the college.

Komp said she’ll be covering cannabis history from the 1970s to the present, the origins of the marijuana prohibition and famous historical figures who have used marijuana, in addition to current legislation. She said she thinks the school can help renew the community’s values about sustainability, conservation and alternative energy while engaging an industry that is used to being underground.

”I think, in general, the school will go a long way in reclaiming the community’s leadership, which for a long time has been underground,” Komp said.

Dodds is hoping the school will also attract students and teachers from around the world and, eventually, conduct medical cannabis research.

The school’s current curriculum starts with a foundation class that will include 12 hours of instruction and some laboratory work. This beginning-level class teaches how to grow, harvest, dry/cure and store medical cannabis. While the class’ main focus is on outdoor organic practices, it will also address small indoor soil systems. In addition to components that will cover health and horticulture, the class will also cover the history of cannabis in the U.S., as well as existing and evolving California law.

Dodds is also offering consultations and, eventually, an advanced seminar class. The courses are open to 215 card holders.

Dodds said she hopes education can help medical professionals better understand cannabis as a medicine, and help the community better position itself in the emerging medical cannabis industry. She said she thinks there is plenty of institutional knowledge in the area to build upon.

”What we want to do is draw on that knowledge base, and we plan on seeking sustainability, we plan on being in business, and teaching and evolving with this business,” she said.


What: 707 Cannabis College Expo

Where: Mateel Community Center, 59 Rusk Lane, Redway

When: Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

By Donna Tam

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