NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The burgeoning legal marijuana industry is creating new jobs, from bud tenders to extraction artists – to professors of cannabis. Yes, academics can find their place in the pot movement, as well.

In Tampa, Fla., Jeremy Bufford of Medical Marijuana Tampa is preparing for the possibility of legalization in the Sunshine State by sponsoring marijuana classes. Enrollment in the initial class sold out within 24 hours, according to Bufford. Classes are held twice a week for four weeks, totaling 16 hours of instruction.

The course was developed to instruct students in how to grow medical grade marijuana using hydroponic and aeroponic systems. Since Florida hasn't legalized such agricultural endeavors yet, participants use peppers and tomatoes as substitutes.

"You come in the classroom, led by the professors of cannabis, and there's outside work in grow spaces to learn to grow your own crops," Bufford told the New Times. "We're preparing for medical-grade product -- it's far more difficult than putting a seed in the ground."

Bufford launched the classes in anticipation of a positive outcome to Florida's vote on a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in November. With passage, his plans include 15 dispensaries, a quality control lab and the hiring of some 350 employees. In effect, he's training his own potential future employees.

The syllabus for the course includes:

  • The history of cannabis
  • Growing fundamentals
  • Sexing (of seeds)
  • Flavoring and additives
  • What to do when talking to law enforcement

This "education in cultivation" costs $499 and the initial sessions are being taught by Carlos Hermida, a "distinguished [alumnus] of Oaksterdam University." Oaksterdam claims to be the first cannabis college -- established in 2007 – and promises to help students "turn over a new leaf" with instruction in federal and state law, indoor and outdoor horticulture, dispensary operations and quite likely the most popular class: "methods of ingestion."

Based in Oakland, Calif., Oaksterdam is situated on a "sprawling 30,000 square foot campus," claims 6,000 alumni and features a faculty that includes a professor known as "Miss Bliss."

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet