Med Grow Cannabis College in Michigan offers classes on how to grow marijuana

Med Grow Cannabis College in Michigan teaches students how to grow medical marijuana, which was legalized in the state by referendum in November 2008. Some in the state have questioned the legality of the school, and officials will meet in December to discuss the issue.

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By Peter Carlson
Monday, November 30, 2009

Okay, before we delve into Med Grow Cannabis College and its myriad innovations in marijuana education, let's get all the dumb dope jokes out of the way:

Yes, Med Grow Cannabis College does give new meaning to the phrase "higher education."

No, Med Grow does not offer a seminar on "The Cinematic Art of Cheech and Chong." Nor does it serve Oreos and Doritos to students suffering from the munchies.

Go ahead and laugh at Med Grow, but the folks who run the school are totally serious about their pedagogical mission, which is to train participants in Michigan's newly legalized medical marijuana program in the finer points of growing and cooking killer weed.

"People assume it's a wild environment because of the stereotypes about marijuana," says Perry Belcher, who teaches the history of cannabis at Med Grow, "but it really is a place of education."

It certainly looks like one. Med Grow's classroom -- there's only one -- resembles any other college classroom, except for a banner advertising the "Cannabis Counsel," a Michigan defense attorney whose logo depicts the scales of justice balanced on a marijuana leaf. Right now, 16 students are sitting at wooden desks, jotting notes while Todd Alton delivers a lecture in his Horticulture 1010 class.

"You need to think of light as another kind of food," he says.

Alton presses a button and a slide flashes on the screen beside him: "The Spectrum of Light." He delivers a long, complex explanation about the different colors of light and how they affect the marijuana plant.

"In the early seedling stage, the plant really, really wants that blue light," he says. "In the flowering stage, it wants the other end of the spectrum. It wants the red light. It's extremely important to know which lights you need at which phase."

Alton, 36, has a botany degree from Northern Michigan University and plenty of hands-on experience growing pot, although he'd rather not get too specific about that part of his training. He's also a former chef, which comes in handy when he teaches his class on cooking with dope.

Now, Alton begins the lab portion of his class. He unlocks two heavy padlocks and swings two doors open, revealing a pair of blazingly bright rooms containing 10 marijuana plants. This is Med Grow's on-campus pot farm, and the students squeeze in to get a closer look. Alton points out a device that propels a powerful light back and forth over a couple of lush plants.

"This is a light-mover," he says. "It's not very expensive and it makes sure that light gets to every part of your plant."


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