Instructor of the Month: Chris Conrad

conradWhat do you teach at Oaksterdam University?
I teach History and Political Science. Basically I run through 10,000 years of human interaction with cannabis to show how the last 100 years of prohibition are an abberation and a racist attack on the founding principles of the US. Next we look at how the growing momentum of reforms have solidified the social, political and financial ground of today into a foundation for the future. History gives a context for the other information OU provides its students.

How long have you been with OU?
I’ve been with OU since the very beginning — literally! After Richard Lee gave his welcoming address to the first class of students in 2007, I taught the very first course work presented at OU along with then-chancellor Danielle Schumacher. We had a tag-team style in the first few sessions as the curriculum was being developed, and faculty would often sit in on each other’s classes to offer suggestions.

How you got involved in the industry?
I got involved before there was an industry, in 1989 when I founded the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp, produced a slew of educational pieces and in 1993 wrote Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. There were no canna-businesses back then, so I cobbled together a network of people and hemp resources to help hemp businesses get started, then served as first president of the Hemp Industries Association. My wife Mikki Norris and I were instrumental in the passage of California’s Prop 215 and after that SB 420, the first state law to immunize patients for sales of medical marijuana. My role and great pleasure have been to help others succeed.

What is the name of your company or business and what services you provide?
The things that keep me most busy nowadays are my work as a consultant and cannabis expert witness in the courts. I’ve been involved in more than 2000 cases, testified for the defense well over 300 times, and been cited by the California Supreme Court at least twice, plus more than a dozen Appelate decisions. My legal work has saved people from hundreds of years of prison time, helped reunite families and done its best to keep police excesses in check. As Creative Xpressions, I also write, publish books, curate a few museums, we published the West Coast Leaf newspaper for five years then moved online with cannabis news service and also host the Leaf Radio hour every Monday at 4 PM on the Time4Hemp Broadcast Network. People can learn more about my books and speaking activities at my website,

Expert tip for our readers?
Three tips to stay out of jail:
1) Don’t use text messages for canna-business, they come back to bite you during any legal problems.
2) Dabbing BHO is legal but don’t make it because you might blow something up, there is no medical marijuana defense for blasting extracts in California and the felony penalties are severe.
3) Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, go to Oaksterdam University to learn how to play it safe and succeed in this exciting but turbulent industry.

Favorite part about Oaksterdam?
For the university, it’s either the students, the staff or the museum displays, I can’t decide. I love all three. If you mean the community, it is the positive energy, the excitement, the great potential it has as a model for other communities to work with civic leaders and fight against the stigma imposed on cannabis consumers in less enlightened localities. It is the smell of freedom that one encounters in the air here.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers:
This struggle is far from over — we have to get big government off our backs, release the drug war POWs and secure our basic freedom to “pursuit of happiness” and also to erase the stigma imposed by decades of bigotry and discrimination. I can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to support each other, lobby for reforms and donate money to the political groups and business associations that have brought us this far. We need everyone to make sure that future generations are soon free from the scourge of prohibition and able to fully enjoy the benefits of cannabis. The Oaksterdam University community is vital to the process.

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