Portland’s Sativa Science Club, a serious science and business school, seeks to fill an important need in the cannabis industry: educating people. The first academic program of its kind — independent of any of Oregon’s 510 dispensaries, law offices, and investment companies – it opened its classroom doors in June 2017. And, like the rest of the industry, it’s been working full-on ever since.
Mary J. Poppins, formerly a professional botanist with a degree in Sustainable Business Management from Portland State University, founded the Sativa Science Club after having spent several years working on a pot farm in California’s Emerald Triangle — the northern counties of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity that are the largest cannabis-growing region in the US.
“The purpose is to help the front-lines workforce, such as budtenders, to be able to confidently describe the differences between cannabis genotype and phenotype, so they can guide their customers to appropriate products, based on chemotypic data rather than relying on the Indica-Sativa binary,” Poppins told Marijuana.com.
The Sativa Science Club offers a 20-course certification program that includes classes in botany, cannabis compounds, terpenes, the endocannabinioid system, hemp, consumption methods, compassionate client care, and more.
“The students who seek certification must go through a comprehensive Core Science Certification program that involves learning the fundamentals of cannabis science and client care.”
The certification program then expands on the initial platform through a curriculum involving lectures given by leading cannabis experts and scientists from all over the world.
A team of Harvard Medical alumni will review and approve the 2019 curriculum, Poppins said.
“We’re trying to raise the bar for the cannabis industry as a whole by increasing knowledge and dispelling misconceptions,” said Poppins. “Education is the best way to do that.”
With 68 percent of the US voting population supporting the legalization of cannabis, some might assume that quite a few people are consuming it and more have questions about it.
The Sativa Science Club also caters to the less academic, cannabis-curious individuals by offering single lectures, pop-up events and community campaigns.
Although under Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), cannabis cannot be consumed at retail outlets, in rental cars, or even outdoors in public spaces, cannabis tourism is booming in the form of dispensary tours, 420-friendly hostels and rentals, and a plethora of marijuana-themed activities.
As such, out-of-towners often wander into the Sativa Science Club.
“We get people from all over the world who come in for individual courses or shorter series. We’ve had Australians, Irish, British…some who’ve never smoked cannabis but are curious and want solid information,” Poppins said.
Apart from the far-flung visitors, course attendees that most surprised Poppins were members of what Oregon calls its “Honored Citizens.”
“I expected budtenders, small business owners, people needing information on medical cannabis…but one of the most popular demographics are seniors!”
No surprise there. Baby boomers are the fastest-growing and largest cannabis consumer group in the country.
“We do educational events where they live and hire buses to take them shopping for their cannabis products,” said Poppins, 30. “The seniors are very engaged. They’ve known about cannabis for much longer than we have.”