Mar­i­juana-themed classes start soon at Ta­coma Com­mu­nity Col­lege

The News Tribune - - Local - BY CRAIG SAILOR [email protected]­new­stri­bune.com

Two new classes built around mar­i­juana are be­ing of­fered at Ta­coma Com­mu­nity Col­lege this win­ter.

The classes, part of the school’s con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram, of­fer in­sights into the his­tory, sci­ence and in­dus­try of cannabis.

“I’ll just be pre­sent­ing what we know and point­ing out what we don’t know about cannabis,” said in­struc­tor Lukas Barfield. He is a Ta­coma-based cannabis re­searcher and writer.

The two cour­ses, “Cannabis In­dus­try and Trends” and “Health Ben­e­fits of Cannabis” are each three ses­sions over three weeks.

The first two ses­sions of each course are the same and cover the his­tory and sci­ence of cannabis.

The third ses­sion in the in­dus­try course cov­ers get­ting a job in cannabis.

“What are the dif­fer­ent jobs? What skills do you ac­tu­ally need to know,” Barfield said.

The third ses­sion in the health course cov­ers medic­i­nal uses.

“I will be pre­sent­ing the most up to date re­search and also some of the

things you want to watch out for,” Barfield said. He’ll also in­struct on safe stor­age and keep­ing mar­i­juana away from chil­dren.

In ad­di­tion to Barfield’s lec­tures the course in­cludes guest speak­ers, he said.

Barfield has a mas­ter’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion and is a med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tient. He’s taught math at the mid­dle school and col­lege level.

In 2014, Barfield left teach­ing for the cannabis in­dus­try. He writes for Gan­japreneur, Cannabis Fi­nan­cial Net­work and other web­sites.

This is his first time teach­ing a cannabis course.

Barfield pitched the idea to Zacharé Rogue Daugh­arty, TCC’s pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor for con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

Daugh­arty said le­gal mar­i­juana is where the com­puter or espresso in­dus­tries were when they were com­ing of age.

“I don’t think any­one thought 30 to 40 years ago that cof­fee would be the in­dus­try it is now,” Daugh­arty said. “I’ve been want­ing to see if we could put a course to­gether with this sub­ject mat­ter.”

The in­dus­try course be­gins Jan. 19 at the Ta­coma cam­pus and the health class starts Jan. 23 at the Gig Har­bor cam­pus.

Both cour­ses cost $89 each.

While the TCC cour­ses are be­lieved to be the first cannabis classes at a pub­lic col­lege or univer­sity in Pierce County, they aren’t the first in the state.

The Cannabis In­sti­tute at Seat­tle Cen­tral Col­lege of­fers a “Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Con­sul­tant Cer­tifi­cate Pro­gram,” ap­proved by the state De­part­ment of Health.

The in­sti­tute, which started up in 2016, cur­rently of­fers seven course, ac­cord­ing to founder Trey Reck­ling. Along with Clark Col­lege and now TCC they ap­pear to be the only pub­lic higher in­sti­tu­tions of­fer­ing cannabis cour­ses.

“They are hard to come by when it comes to ac­cred­ited in­sti­tu­tions,” Reck­ling said. “That’s where we hope to change the game.”

In Wash­ing­ton, cannabis sales ex­ceeded $1.3 bil­lion in 2017. In ad­di­tion, med­i­cal mar­i­juana is in­creas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

With that much money flow­ing and pub­lic in­ter­est high, it might seem odd that the state’s col­leges and univer­si­ties have largely been ig­nor­ing the sub­ject.

The rea­son, Reck­ling said, could be a fear of los­ing fed­eral ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

Con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams of­fers col­leges the abil­ity to get around those con­cerns, Reck­ling said.

“That’s a big part of what is at play in the minds of ad­min­is­tra­tors,” he said.

Some col­leges around the na­tion have started of­fer­ing cour­ses in cannabis, but they re­main few, ac­cord­ing to Forbes mag­a­zine.

“It could just as well be a sup­ply-demand is­sue — col­leges might be con­cerned that the classes wouldn’t have a high enough en­roll­ment to jus­tify the cost,” said Laura McDow­ell, a spokes­woman for the Wash­ing­ton State Board for Com­mu­nity and Tech­ni­cal Col­leges.

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