Now that Amendment 64 has passed and recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado it's not as easy to get a hold of some of that legal weed as it might seem.
The regulatory framework for purchasing legal pot for recreational use has not been worked out yet and currently only licensed medical marijuana patients can legally buy from dispensaries. So, what's a Coloradan to do? Well, you can hope a friend has a spare ounce laying around and they gift it to you or you can grow it yourself.
And that's where THC University comes in -- Colorado's first professional marijuana cultivation training program -- which just held its first class over the weekend and in the process redefined "higher education."
The Denver Post reports that more than 20 students attended the sold out, inaugural class at THC U called "Growing Marijuana 101" and learned that raising healthy and fruitful marijuana plants is no simple task.
"I think a lot of people just think you plant a seed, and let it go," Jones told 9News, but said that the process is much more involved than that. "You don't know all the time, where it came from, what exactly you're getting and where it came from. So this is a great way for you to be able to choose, I want my plants to be soil, I want it to be hydro, I want it to be organic.
Although THC U is not affiliated with an accredited university, the weed school holds classes at Denver's Auraria Campus in the Tivoli Student Union. And because marijuana is not allowed on campus, students learn their new craft on tomato plants rather than marijuana plants.
Here's how THC University described their mission in a promotional video on their website when the school first launched:
We believe there’s never been a better time to learn how to cultivate and care for your own marijuana plants than now. The passing of Amendment 64 allows you to legally possess and grow up to six marijuana plants in the state of Colorado, making marijuana cultivation a legal, rewarding, and cost effective way of producing marijuana for your own medicinal or recreational uses.
Our professional marijuana cultivation class will provide you with the knowledge and equipment necessary to confidently start growing your own plants without experiencing as many of the initial growing pains that many first time marijuana growers encounter.
THC University is already enrolling for their next session beginning March 30th, offering a 5-class "Budtender" certification for $200, a 10-class "Indoor Grower" certification for $400 and a 14-class "Master Indoor Growing" certification for $650. Depending on the focus, class topics include cooking, lighting, flowering, how to keep pests and disease away from your plants to the law and business of marijuana growing.
"In reality, all you need is a space the size of a small closet, materials from the hardware store, and time," a press release announcing the formation of THCU read in January. "How much time depends, people trying to grow for their first time without any education or experience will suffer a lot of learning curves, burning the plants, too much, or not enough nutrients, php levels, etc. People who know what they are doing spend only a few minutes a day tending their plants."
The passage of Amendment 64 made it legal for adults, 21 and over, in Colorado to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes with no more than three of those plants flowering at a given time. After the regulatory framework for recreational marijuana is settled, recreational pot shops are expected to start opening in the state in about a year.
THC University is the first of its kind in Colorado but other marijuana industry training programs have sprouted up in states like California where medical marijuana is legal, the most well-known being Oaksterdam which was raided by federal agents in April of last year, seizing much of its property. Soon after the raid, the university's founder, Richard Lee, stepped down. Though Oaksterdam has relocated, since Lee's departure, resources have continued to diminish.
For more information about marijuana's legality in Colorado, read The Huffington Post's interview with Brian Vicente, the co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the pot advocacy group behind Amendment 64. Vicente answers many of the common questions about the new law.