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How the Cannabis Career Institute helps its students prep for life in the weedustry

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It’s Saturday morning around 10:30 a.m., and no one is making weed jokes. No silly cracks about making some green off your new medical marijuana company. No bad puns about growing your cannabis business in Nevada. No puns at all.

I’m sitting in the back corner of a narrow conference room that’s not quite big enough for the Cannabis Career Institute’s one-day seminar, and I’m wondering how many of the 50 or so people scribbling notes and asking questions will someday actually work in medical marijuana. There are young guys in baseball caps and older ones in Hawaiian shirts and a woman who looks like somebody’s aunt. They’ve all been drawn here by the promise of a cannabis education and—more importantly—by the much fainter promise of a profitable career in medical marijuana somewhere down the line.

CCI founder Robert Calkin applauds the students for their foresight and says that they’re positioning themselves for successful careers as dispensary owners, growmasters, budtenders and consultants when Nevada finally establishes a legal framework for medical marijuana distribution. A “marijuana enthusiast” (don’t say stoner) and advocate, Calkin talks about the intricacies of nonprofit status, the difficulty of funding a marijuana business and the heartiness of the cannabis plant. (He swears one sprouted off a brick in a recording studio where he was working.) He mentions Medbox pot vending machines and the fact that “everything that we’re talking about here in class is illegal federally.”

Still, he says, Nevada should be leading the charge. “If you can legalize prostitution, if you can legalize gambling, medical marijuana should be a piece of cake.” Or should we say, brownie.

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