Inside Oaksterdam University

Photos, audio and slideshow by Rebecca Bowe

A tour of Oakland’s “Cannabis College,” featuring spokesperson Salwa Ibrahim and co-founder Richard Lee.

This week, we report on two efforts currently underway to tax and regulate marijuana — AB 390, legislation introduced by Assembly member Tom Ammiano that would legalize marijuana and regulate it in similar fashion to alcohol, and Tax Cannabis 2010, a ballot initiative that would give California counties the option to legalize.

Oakland-based Oaksterdam University — a.k.a. “Cannabis College” — is the driver behind the ballot initiative. Since OU opened its doors in 2007, about 5,000 students have taken classes to learn the politics and practical skills associated with the medical marijuana industry. Co-founder Richard Lee says he expects to be able to enroll 5,000 students per year once the school moves into new digs at a 30,000 square-foot facility several blocks away.

For now, OU’s courses are primarily taught out of a single classroom located nearby the 19th Street Bart station in downtown Oakland. When the Guardian stopped by last week, spokesperson Salwa Ibrahim led us on a tour of OU’s classroom, horticulture center, and one of its dispensaries for medical marijuana. We also chatted with Lee about courses at OU and his view on the economic benefits associated with legalization. To check it out, watch the slideshow.