Do you like to gamble? Do you love boardwalks? Are you comfortable with the sights, sounds, and smells of New Jersey? Do you want to know how to grow weed?
Oaksterdam University, a California pot college, held courses in Atlantic City in August to help cannabis gardeners grow healthy plants. The four-day seminar, $1,000 a person, was held at Bally’s Casino in late August.
Ironically, New Jersey is one of the few states that allow medical marijuana but bar home cultivation of pot. Yet the seminar drew dozens from across New Jersey and other states.
Planners said they expected about 100 participants from around the region, including stoners, patients, businesspeople, and regulators, to attend the class.
“More than 50 percent of the students at Oaksterdam come from outside California,” said Dale Jones, Oaksterdam’s chancellor. “So we thought that rather than making you guys come to us, let’s find a great town and bring it to the East.”
New Jersey has one of the most stringent and unsuccessful medical marijuana programs in the country. That forced seminar planners to swap out cannabis for basil in their demonstrations.
“New Jersey didn’t offer us any wiggle room to use live plants, and we didn’t want to put anyone at risk for arrest,” Jones said.
The focus of the class was on legal and business issues in the marijuana market. Organizers issued certifications to students with high test scores, certifications that could make it easier to find jobs in the industry.
Medical weed has thrived in Oaksterdam’s home state, even as local and state officials grapple with regulation of the industry. New Jersey, on the other hand, has an MMJ program that’s struggling to stay alive.
Gov. John Corzine signed medical cannabis into law in 2010, but his successor, Gov. Chris Christie, immediately stalled the program. When pot shops finally opened last year, few patients had been able to register, and few doctors were willing to participate.
Overall, MMJ in New Jersey has been an abysmal failure, mostly because of Christie’s obstructionism. He has said medical weed is a front for legalization and accused Colorado of descending into chaos after voting to make the drug legal.
The seminar may prove useful for visitors from other nearby states, especially New York and Connecticut, both of which now allow medical marijuana. But it’s questionable whether the class will help providers and entrepreneurs in New Jersey. Until the state has a new governor, cultivation will likely remain illegal – though that certainly won’t stop everyone from trying.