Friday, April 5, 2013 | 4:11 p.m.
While Nevada lawmakers debate the merits of legalizing marijuana, one company is looking at opening the state's first medical marijuana school this month.
The Budtender School is expected to have its grand opening on April 13. Created by the Cannabis Career Institute — the second oldest marijuana school in the nation — the school will teach students how to establish and maintain a successful and legal medical marijuana dispensary business.
Over the past five years, the cannabis institute has conducted two to three workshops each month in 10 cities around the country. This year, the institute hopes to launch classes in up to 30 American and Canadian cities, all of which are considering lifting bans on marijuana.
Each daylong workshop will teach students how to grow and cook marijuana following legal and health guidelines. Though a variety of online and one-on-one classes, the institute covers all aspects of the medical marijuana business, from its operations and budgeting to the marketing and delivery.
This isn't a class on how to grow a clandestine marijuana farm on Mount Charleston or conduct shady deals on the Strip however, insists Robert Calkin, who founded the institute in 2008.
The institute works with local law enforcement to educate people on how to grow marijuana legally, Calkin said. If state lawmakers approve Assembly Bill 402 — introduced on Friday — Nevada would allow recreational use of marijuana under regulations similar to alcohol.
"It's coming," Calkin said. "Nevada has always been cutting-edge socially and politically. It was ahead of other states on gambling and prostitution, and (marijuana) is a lot less problematic. Nevada appears to be on the cusp of approving it."
The school will prepare entrepreneurs who want to start a marijuana business and others just interested in obtaining a job in the burgeoning industry. So far, the popular institute has graduated more than 1,500 people across the country.
If run successfully, a medical marijuana dispensary could earn a quarter of a million dollars a year, Calkin said. In neighboring Arizona — where Nevada lawmakers recently took a fact-finding trip — the average marijuana dispensary has the potential to earn up to $10,000 a day, he added.
"It's quite a challenge to open a dispensary that meets all the legal criteria," Calkin said. "But it'll be pretty lucrative for whoever has the skills. And it's definitely going to be a boon to the economy here."
The local marijuana workshop will be Saturday, April 13, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1340 Warms Springs Road in Henderson. Calkin says he hoped to have about 40 students enrolled.
The one-day seminar — between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. — will expose students to five or six marijuana experts, accountants and attorneys, as well a textbook explaining different marijuana strains and growing and cooking methods.
The course costs $249. Interested students can enroll in the institute by visiting Cannabis Career Institute's website or by calling 800-753-2240.