Organizers hope pot job fair flies under the radar

Promoters of an upcoming medical marijuana industry job fair and training seminar believe they can avoid the notoriety generated by a recent gathering sponsored by another outfit.

They’re leaving the marijuana at home.

That’s the bell-ringing irony associated with Nevada’s burgeoning medicinal pot business: Although licensed and legal, it’s still easy to run afoul of the law.

As May’s Hempcon medical marijuana education confab at Cashman Field proved, Metro isn’t shy about busting public pot-smokers. Despite warnings to attendees and preparatory meetings with police, 10 persons were arrested at the Hempcon event. Afterward, a spokesperson called it “disheartening for our whole community,” but it wasn’t exactly hard to predict.

Put hundreds of medical and recreation marijuana users together under one roof, and the odds are good someone is going to light up. So the folks at Oaksterdam University Cannabis Training Center and local sponsor and Nevada licensee Green Therapeutics LLC aren’t bringing any product to this weekend’s job and training fair, which starts Friday at the downtown Plaza. (The Sunday-only job informational is free; the training seminar has a fee. Go to oaksterdamuniversity.com or the greentherapeuticslasvegas Facebook page for more information.)

By recent count, a dozen companies have signed up for the job fair, which has already drawn a couple hundred interested parties. More than 100 people have registered with Oaksterdam for the training seminar, which includes basic and advanced courses and will use multi-media presentations in place of the problematic hands-on instruction.

Green Therapeutics executive assistant Anthony DeMeo appreciates the challenges of balancing the new and old laws, multiple jurisdictions and the rapidly evolving business models and medical science. The company he represents holds cultivation and production licenses in Clark County and North Las Vegas.

That means, when it’s up and running Green Therapeutics and outfits like it will be growing plants and creating everything from smokable and edible pot to pills and pain patches. For its part, the company estimates it will employ 25 workers at each of its two operations.

And that’s how the medical marijuana economy takes root.

“The seminar will cover all of your bases,” he says. “It’s going to teach you about the science of the plant, how to grow it, the cannabinoids the plant holds, the terpenes and some of its therapeutic uses.”

Cannabinoids? Terpenes?

Listen to a medical marijuana technician, and you’ll start to suspect pot is no longer pot.

(Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by marijuana that give it its medical and recreational uses. Terpenes are the compounds in the plant that give it its distinctive smell and taste. Yeah, I didn’t know, either.)

For some reason, I picture a roomful of Jeff Spicoli characters who have finally found a class they can pass. But I’m wrong. It’s a lot more than Pot 101, DeMeo says.

“It actually goes more in-depth than that,” he says, patiently adding, “There’s advanced horticulture, so I guess it would be like Pot 223.”

He reels off a long list of areas from the basic chemistry, to the process of measuring the potency, to creating the variety of marijuana products used by patients being treated for everything from chronic pain to seizure disorder. And the market expands daily.

Yes, there are conflicting federal and state laws to consider as well as an appreciation for the rights of patients seeking treatment.

“We want to make sure we’re abiding by all our state laws,” he says.

There are so many moving parts to this story, news media outlets surely will be tempted to assign a full-time reporter to the pot beat. (Hey, look at all those volunteers for duty.)

“To me, its important that the general public knows that this industry is not just about giving people the feeling of euphoria, but about educating individuals on the medicinal benefits of cannabis and creating opportunities for qualified individuals to become involved in this ‘green rush,’ ” DeMeo says.

And you don’t have to make a corny pothead-on-a-job-search joke unless you want to.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. E-mail him at jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295.

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