The History of Oaksterdam University
Oaksterdam University was founded in November 2007. Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, placed a provocative advertisement in the East Bay Express proclaiming “Cannabis Industry Now Hiring.” Lee had wanted to open a trade school for the cannabis industry ever since visiting the cannabis college in Amsterdam. Rather than emulate the college in Amsterdam where curriculum mainly surrounds horticulture, Lee decided to expand upon the idea and create a curriculum that focuses on the entire cannabis trade. Wanting to further legitimize the cannabis industry, Lee’s school quickly gained the attention of local, national, and even international media.
The result of this advertisement was over 200 phone calls in the first week, inquiring about this new and innovative trade school. Of those 200 callers, 20 lucky and trailblazing students packed into a small classroom in Oaksterdam located on 15th Street. That first class featured some of the biggest names in the cannabis industry. Chris Conrad, Richard Lee, Lawrence Lichter, and Dennis Peron wowed students with classes in Legal Issues, Politics, Cooking, Concentrates, and Horticulture. As word travelled about this groundbreaking school, Oaksterdam University soon found itself with a 3 month waiting list for classes.
As demand for classes increased exponentially, Oaksterdam University quickly outgrew its humble beginnings on 15th street and moved to a larger classroom on Broadway. As class sizes grew to 54 students, class frequency also increased. Initially only holding classes on the weekend, Oaksterdam University began offering semester-length classes during the weekday evenings.
Soon after the national media discovered Oaksterdam University, demand across the state began to grow. In 2008, Lee expanded the school by opening a satellite school in Los Angeles. Headed by PIDC founder Jeff Jones, the Los Angeles campus quickly found a foothold among the large cannabis community.
Michigan, soon after passing its medical cannabis law, would be the next home for Oaksterdam University. Oaksterdam University offered to bring its services to Ann Arbor for a weekend seminar. Once again, the response was overwhelming and the school was flooded with phone calls asking to reserve a seat. Oaksterdam University followed through with its offer and held the first Michigan class in May of 2009.
Shortly after the success in Michigan, long-time Oaksterdam University cooking instructor Mitcho Thompson was appointed to run the newest North Bay campus in Sebastopol, California at the new Peace in Medicine building.
With demand continually growing, in celebration of its 2 successful years, in November of 2009 Oaksterdam University moved to 1600 Broadway, Oakland. A sprawling 30,000 sqft campus, the new location features multiple classrooms, 2 auditoriums, a grow lab, and a theater.
In 2012 Oaksterdam University moved across the street to 1734 Telegraph Ave., where we also host the Cannabis and Hemp museum. It’s now 2014 and this emerging industry continues to grow. OU must now consider another potential move as courses are selling out and programs are wait listed months in advance. We look forward to growing with you!