The federal government’s crackdown on marijuana possession, even in states that allow marijuana consumption for medical reason, is threatening to destroy a pot-growing university in California known colloquially as the Princeton of Pot and the Harvard of Hemp.
The glibly named Oaksterdam University, a college in Oakland that has taught 15,000 students about cannabis cultivation over the last five years, has recently experienced rapidly plummeting enrollment, according to a report from the Sacramento Bee.
Sources say that the university has made a tangibly positive impact on the area’s economy, which has provided a boon for a city that is famous for taking a liberal stance on marijuana use. Sources say the college’s new batch of students hail from places as diverse as Japan and Puerto Rico.
But in recent months, the four U.S. attorneys who are stationed in California have waged a successful war on dispensaries that sell medical marijuana, which is legal under California criminal law but still deemed illegal under federal law.
In years past, the federal government had turned a blind eye to dispensaries in California that sold medical marijuana, but the Obama Administration’s newfound interest in cracking down on marijuana production has put a major dent in the bottom line of dispensaries across California.
However, despite the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in other towns, Oakland has remained obstinate, and plans to open four new marijuana stores in addition to the four establishments that are already in operation.
The move is partially a result of the financial boon offered by the dispensaries for the city. For example, the four stores currently in operation provide an annual $1.7 million in tax revenue for the economically distraught city.
Still, representatives at Oaksterdam University are nervous that the federal crackdown will have a harmful long-term effect on the college, which offers classes on cannabis cultivation, marijuana law, cooking, and other horticultural activities.
Oddly, though, many students who were interviewed by the Sacramento Bee were reluctant to give their full names to the newspaper. A fear of prosecution seems to hang over the university, which does not bode well for its efforts to increase enrollment.
But the promise of potential jobs in other states, even if the marijuana industry in California collapses, seems to serve as enough incentive for hundreds of students to continue to flock to the university.
According to one student named Maya, she is willing to take a “calculated risk” that the marijuana dispensary job market will continue to grow in other states that are not subject to the same scrutiny that is currently faced by California.