Seven years ago, Mickey Martin was obliged to plead guilty to conspiracy after his edibles company in California was shut down. Today Martin is channeling his hard-won experience in what not to do by founding the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in Natick, Massachusetts. As the inexorable tide of cannabis legalization sweeps the nation, it’s leaving a grey area big enough to steer an aircraft carrier through, as states have already legalized the drug, while the federal government most decidedly has not. So in states like Colorado and Washington, carrying and distributing is entirely legal—unless you happen to cross paths with a grumpy FBI agent or federal judge. The situation has led to a huge collective WTF? on the part of legalization supporters. Even as we speak, Washington has hired UCLA professor of public policy Mark Kleiman to serve as its “hemperor” to navigate the thorny legal issues and decide on a policy that does the most good for most Washingtonians.
Martin, like most observers convinced that drug policy reform is likely to continue, sees an opportunity to fill a necessary gap in the market, to educate those entering the pot retail business not to repeat his mistakes. As the Boston Globe reported, interest is significant—the school has fielded about 1,500 enrollment inquiries, some from as far away as Nepal, India, Spain, and Russia. As Martin says, “What you have is people investing heavily into these businesses and going through a competitive application process—dealing with pages of regulations from the Department of Public Health, strict security protocols, strict handling protocols—there’s just not a lot of room for error.”
As an example of the kind of “error” that can occur, consider that 9 of the 20 groups approved to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts had their privileges revoked for reasons such as misleading profit models and a lack of support from local communities. These are the aspects of selling legal weed that the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis is designed to inform future retailers about.
Northeastern Institute of Cannabis founder Mickey Martin
Classes at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis start on September 15th. There are 12 courses, which cost $199 each; the full program costs $1500. The classes will cover regulations, the history of pot, cultivation techniques, the science of reefer, and media relations. Cultivation classes will have to make do with video instruction feeds coming from approved dispensaries.
It’s a little weird that the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis is located in a state that has not yet embraced marijuana legalization, but Martin is confident that pot will be legalized completely in Massachusetts in 2016—as long as advocates are able to get it on the ballot.
Here’s a radio interview Martin conducted with Boston radio station WAAF: