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The rolling hills surrounding Las Positas campus aren’t the only green students want to roll in. 

As marijuana use continues to rise and dispensaries pop up in California, it seems that the commercialization of the drug is inevitable. As other Bay Area schools take initiative to introduce cannabis studies programs, Las Positas College should take suit. The college already hosts courses on horticulture, viniculture and business entrepreneurship. These courses could be adapted to the cannabis industry. 

It’s not like there’s no market for jobs, either. In 2019, there were an estimated 500,000 jobs in the cannabis industry as more states legalize cannabis. 

Operating a cannabis business, whether a grower or a distributor, is different from most other businesses. Most banks, credit cards and debit card providers are reluctant to do business with cannabis businesses due to the federal law making cannabis illegal. This results in most cannabis businesses being cash only. Growers cannot get loans to purchase land or crops, dispensaries cannot get small business loans to start or expand the business.

As cannabis has been an underground industry until the law changed, there still is a stigma and fear about cannabis.  Stigma like this can fuel policy that invites over taxation, lack of access, questionable laws and misinformation. Education can help. 

Since cannabis is a unique business, education can be important to the grower or distributor. Las Positas College considered a cannabis program a few years ago. According to LPC horticulture Professor Tom Fuller LPC “did talk about this a couple of years ago.” 

“One of the Deans and myself even took a cannabis tour of various grow facilities in Sonoma County… I think such a course would be popular,” Fuller said. 

“However, I have concerns about security. It seems that every month there is reported a crime regarding cannabis dispensaries or grow operations.  The facilities that we toured are much more secure than ours.”

LPC Dean Nan Ho said that LPC has no plans to start a cannabis program, but the horticulture program could develop related knowledge and skills. 

Growing cannabis is similar to growing most other crops and plants that are cultivated. There are optimum soils for growing, the plants need large amounts of sunlight, proper temperatures to grow and water just as other plants.

Locally, Merritt College in Oakland, Oaksterdam University in Oakland and the City College of San Francisco teach classes on cannabis.

“Students have been very receptive to our classes, we actually doubled enrollment this semester from the first time we ran our intro to cannabis production class and home cultivation class in the spring of 2022,” Matthew Witemyre, professor of Horticulture at Merritt College said.

Witemyre said Merritt College doesn’t have much concern over security with its program since they are growing hemp, which has a low concentration of THC and can’t “get anyone high.” The plants are still in a locked area, though.

There is a demand for more cannabis education based on other college experiences with increased enrollment in cannabis programs. With decreased enrollment since COVID-19, a cannabis program may help increase enrollment. Las Positas should again explore starting a cannabis program.

Alan Lewis is a staff writer for Express. Follow him @Ormond1912.

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