ERIC SANDY / SCENE
Richard Pine hosts an open house and "Weed Dating" panel event at Cleveland Cannabis College Feb. 18.
Tucked into a nondescript office building on the industrial side of Independence, the Cleveland Cannabis College
is offering prospective retailers, hopeful horticulturists and seasoned physicians a shot at the experience they'll need to lead Ohio into the medical marijuana vanguard. To hear CEO Richard Pine tell it, our state is poised to revolutionize how medical marijuana is grown, tested, regulated and sold.
As the 25th state to recognize legal medical marijuana, Ohio had some structure to work off of.
"Other states don't necessarily treat the plant as medicine," Pine says, pointing most specifically to Ohio's tighter regulatory language (still being developed, in many ways). "There has to be somewhere for doctors to learn — and to learn how to talk to patients about this."
Students are accepted on what might be called a rolling basis; there are introductory classes that lead into more focused specialty-type certifications or degrees (like horticulture). The college set up shop Jan. 1, and hosted its first class at the end of January.
Last weekend, dozens of interested students and community members stopped by to network, learn about the college and participate in one-on-one panelists sessions dubbed "weed dating." As educational videos screened on a projector, Northeast Ohio residents leafed through literature and talked about how HB 523 is taking shape
"I saw that need for a hub," Pine says, describing how most education companies use conferences — travel — to teach professionals in a given field. Here in Cleveland, backed by a strong biomedical industry, his college presents an anchor for anyone looking to broaden his or her knowledge of both the plant and the developing legal framework for its growth and distribution in Ohio.
Of course, most of the law in Ohio isn't yet fully sketched out "We can't teach what's not written yet," Pine says. "We have the majority of the meat and potatoes of the curriculum done." (He hopes to have those plans finalized by April 20.)
"There will be more opportunities as the years go on," Pine says. "But you'll need to have the experience, number one, to get a job or a license. We're that transition where students can come and further their education, and we're also in the process of setting up some programs out West and in Michigan to get students hands-on experience — work internships — so they'll be able to get their feet on the ground and actually work with the material."
It's all of a piece, especially when you consider that the state legislature itself assembled this law. With CCC's broadening scope, Ohioans will get the experience they need — and then Ohioans will fill the jobs that the Ohio medical marijuana industry begins to create.