2023 Rewind: Oaksterdam’s Top Highlights of the Year

December 31, 2023

It’s been a banner year for Oaksterdam University. With new courses, two books and numerous awards for our partnerships and documentary film, we have been busier than ever in our 16-year history as an official school. That doesn’t even count our alumni, 80,000 strong from more than 110 countries, who are spreading the Oaksterdam love as they advance the cannabis industry across the country and around the world! Read on for some of our top highlights from 2023. 

American Pot Story Movie Poster

1 | American Pot Story: Oaksterdam Documentary Wins Awards

What other cannabis school has a movie? American Pot Story: Oaksterdam tells the origin story of OU and how we’ve changed the world. The feature-length film swept through the festival circuit from coast to coast in 2023, celebrating an important piece of cannabis history and winning awards all along the way — Tommy Chong introduced one of the screenings! It was an official selection at Dances with Films in Los Angeles and New York City; Slamdance in Salt Lake City, Utah; Kevin Smith’s Smodcastle and Lighthouse International film festivals in New Jersey; Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival; Topanga Film Festival; and Weyauwega in Wisconsin. It even screened at Tokyo’s International Cannabis Film Festival! GreenState Magazine states, “American Pot Story is a story of resilience, depicting a group of Bay Area activists who fought for decades to see the future we’re living in.” It was named Best Documentary by CelebStoner Magazine and a must-watch for every American by Film Threat. “Sure, our empire is powerful and scary, but it can be opposed in a non-violent way and forced to do the right thing. American Pot Story: Oaksterdam brilliantly captures a moment where two people led, inspired, and educated … on the way to regaining some freedom in America!” 

2 | Oaksterdam Publishing Releases Two Print Books

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, more people are working with the plant than ever before. In 2023, Oaksterdam issued the downloadable Cannabis Terminology Style Guide to establish common-use definitions of the terms and concepts core to its complexities. In 2023, we expanded the guide and published it as a book! Available as an e-book ($5.99) or pocket guide ($9.99), it’s a must-have for anyone who speaks or writes about the plant. CelebStoner Magazine called it one of the best books of the year. The style guide joins The Budtender’s Guide: A Reference Manual for Cannabis Consumers and Dispensary Professionals in our offerings from Oaksterdam Publishing. The go-to guide for budtenders and consumers who want to be their own budtender also came out as an e-book in 2022 and in print in April, 2023. 

Cannabis Retail Dispensary Training for New Jersey

3 | Oaksterdam Goes State Specific + More Course Updates

We’re constantly rolling out new programs and staying on the cutting edge of professional cannabis education. In 2023, we launched courses specifically designed to train budtenders and medical cannabis dispensary workers to adhere to regulations in their state. We’ve launched Utah, Mississippi, New Jersey, and California. Stay tuned for Connecticut in the new year, with more states coming. Don’t see yours on the list? Reach out to Bruce Bortle, our director of sales and marketing to have training tailor-made for your company. In addition to our state-specific courses, we completely overhauled our Budtending Certification Course curriculum to keep it the most relevant and current in this swiftly evolving field. We’re testing a subscription model on select courses. Try it out!

4 | Social Equity Programs Expand

Social justice has always been core to OU’s mission, evidenced by the marijuana policy reform battles we fought and won to medicalize, decriminalize, and legalize. We’ve long supported BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, and our work providing technical assistance to social equity programs expanded in 2023. 

We continued to work with the City of LA, producing the DCR’s largest event of the year at the historic Mayfair Hotel. We were selected by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for their Seed Equity Grant Technical Assistance Program. The US Virgin Islands Office of the Governor established a grant for social equity participants to attend OU for professional and workforce development, and we are involved in the University of the Virgin Islands’ CELL Program.

In June, we also hosted the Oakland Equity Supply Chain Mixer with Oakland Equity Collective on the beautiful rooftop at Torch. As we wrap our social equity work in Palm Springs and Monterey, we look forward to serving more programs in the year ahead!

The CT Accelerator Program Graduation.

5 | State of Connecticut Selects OU for Equity

In a huge win for our social equity efforts, Oaksterdam was selected to provide technical assistance to participants in the State of Connecticut Social Equity Council Accelerator Program. We worked alongside reSET, in coalition with The Arcview Group, the International Cannabis Bar Association, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association to address issues and create a long-term sustainable program that meets unique needs of Connecticut social equity entrepreneurs. One of our capstone projects was a Social Equity Business Pitch Day, Graduation Luncheon, Business Showcase & Cannabis Industry Mixer, held Sept. 6 at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center. The event was a huge success and the pitches were phenomenal. In fact, female-led Soulstar found funding there!

Dale Sky Jones and Jeff Jones attend the Dances with Films NY Screening.

6 | Oaksterdam Presents …. Everything Everywhere All at Once

In addition to the equity-centric events we listed above, Oaksterdam attended movie launch parties, conferences, and panel discussions. Some highlights were CannaCon UCLA with Maha Haq, and our CT Social Equity Council Cannabis Accelerator Program Graduation in Hartford, Conn., and Cannabis Unite LA DCR Event. We also showed up every Friday for our virtual Hort Labs, where students and alumni gather to get grow tips in real time from Oaksterdam experts. Watch for us out and about in 2024!

7 | Offering Accredited Degree Opportunities

Due to cannabis being classified as a Schedule I drug, cannabis colleges can’t get accredited on our own. That’s why we’ve linked up with other colleges and universities to expand opportunities for our students. This year, we launched our partnership with Highland Community College in Illinois. Students enrolling in HCC’s Introduction to Cannabis course have the opportunity to benefit from OU’s expertise in the field, supplemented with The Budtenders Guide textbook. This adds to our partnership with Golden Gate University, where Oaksterdam courses count toward a Bachelor’s Degree. Horticulture, Business of Cannabis, and Extraction & Manufacturing courses count for six credits each, meaning you can transfer 18 credits to GGU!

8 | Homegrown Seeds Partnership: Grow as you Go!

Oaksterdam University teamed up with Homegrown Cannabis Co to offer free seeds with the purchase of select Oaksterdam courses to grow as they go to class, with help from our Friday Hort Labs! Oaksterdam is America’s first cannabis college, and Homegrown Cannabis Co. is one of the world’s fastest-growing seed banks, offering high-quality, fast-germinating seeds with proven, stabilized genetics. Oaksterdam has long been offering indoor and outdoor horticulture classes for hobbyists and professionals alike, with a cutting-edge curriculum by faculty with a wide variety of hands-on expertise. The partnership brings these two worlds together.

The Budtender’s Guide came out in print in 2023.

 

9 | Three CLIO Cannabis Awards

We couldn’t be prouder that Oaksterdam was recognized in the 2023 Clio Cannabis Awards.

The Clio Cannabis jury voted collectively on the creativity of our work, which is a testament to the dedication of our team in creating high-quality content to educate people on cannabis and help them grow in the industry.

Our free seeds campaign with Homegrown Cannabis Co. was honored on the shortlist for Partnerships and Collaborations. The Budtender’s Guide got shortlist accolades for Branded Entertainment & Content, Published & Printed Materials.

Dale Sky Jones is also affiliated with Bronze Winner “I’m High Right Now” by the Cannabis Media Council, in the Integrated Media Category. Dale was a founder board member of CMC.

Screen Shot from WLOX newscast with Dale Sky Jones

Dale Sky Jones appears on WLOX news.

10 | Oaksterdam In the News

As the most trusted source for cannabis training, education, and information, journalists look to our team when they need expert commentary on cannabis-related topics. Oaksterdam was in the news with more than 75 earned media appearances in 2023, from January, with Thrillist calling us the “Harvard of Hemp,” to December, with Sensi recommending The Budtender’s Guide in its December Gift Guide. In between, Dale Sky Jones appeared on TV, radio, podcasts, and in print, talking about everything from social equity, banking, and advocacy in cannabis. We were proud to appear in the pages of High Times and the Sacramento Bee. We even made international news, with a spread in Germany’s THCene Magazine

Oaksterdam Board of Directors Vice President Diane Goldstein with Reeform founder Weldon Angelos.

11 | Providing Cannabis Scholarships

The Oaksterdam Nonprofit for Education (The ONE) continued to make an impact. This national organization promotes scholarships, raises awareness of effective public health practices, and supports industry standards for educational program accreditation. In 2023, we collaborated with the Last Prisoner Project and CANORML to award scholarships to deserving individuals. We also launched a scholarship program with REEFORM. This premium indoor flower brand, created by social justice activist Weldon Angelos in partnership with Glass House Brands, aims to help rebuild the lives of individuals and families impacted by Cannabis Prohibition and the War on Drugs. We’re humbled to help in their mission.

Oaksterdam Alumni Denisha Moktan, founder of Soulstar.

12 | Oaksterdam Alumni do Great Things

Always and forever, Oaksterdam’s biggest achievement is YOU, our alumni. We want to congratulate Oaksterdam University’s Class of 2023! You have officially joined the ranks with fellow Oaksterdam Gladiators. OU-trained professionals represent the best of the cannabis industry. We can’t wait to hear about all the wonderful things you do. Stay in touch by joining our Oaksterdam Alumni Network!

Bonus Props to Dale & the OU Team! 

What a “hit of hope” going into 2024. Thank you to the entire OU Team for making it happen! A special shout out to our fearless leader, Dale Sky Jones, who seemed to be everywhere in 2023. She spoke at the 2023 IACCAI Conference and did countless media interviews on our responsible vendor training and partnerships. Some television highlights are WIFR TV, WLOX TV, and NBC News NOW. Her expertise was called on by such media entities as Jim Taylor, High at Nine News, KCBS Radio, Branding Bud LIVE, Planted with Sara Payan, and CT Insider to name a few.

Dale Sky Jones will continue to pioneer the cannabis industry in 2024, ensuring OU’s education offerings remain on the pulsepoint of state, federal, and realtime developments. Look for her in the latest news stories, sharing her expertise in the industry. 

 

 

 

 

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