Oaksterdam University Partners With Jamaican Organizations; Sponsors Rastafari Rootzfest Ganja Festival Scheduled for December 9-11, 2016


We all watched cannabis win big last week in America as California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize adult-use cannabis and Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voted to legalize medical cannabis. Even before Tuesday’s votes were tallied, legalization of cannabis had been moving swiftly within the United States, where medical cannabis is legal in some form in 25 states. But legalizing cannabis around the world has also had forward momentum this year.

Within the last year: 1) Australia federally legalized the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, 2) Uruguay saw its cannabis program get off the ground with its first legal cannabis harvest in June, 3) Columbia decriminalized adult-use cannabis and legalized cannabis for medical and scientific research purposes, 4) the first ExpoWeed Mexico was held in August, and 5) Jamaica decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, established a licensing agency called the CLA, or Cannabis Licensing Authority, and is in the process of setting up regulations for the cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, transportation and consumption of medical cannabis.

Global cannabis market opportunities are on the radars of investors too. Investors are watching emerging cannabis markets in Canada, Israel, Spain, and Australia…even Mexico, Uruguay, Chile and Jamaica. No major companies have emerged from the Jamaican market yet. That’s where Oaksterdam University comes in.

Oaksterdam University and Jamaica – Partnering For Success

Oaksterdam University is in its second year of partnering with various Jamaican organizations to provide guidance regarding medical cannabis regulation best practices as well as to educate those who are interested in working within this nascent enterprise. Embracing cannabis is a great thing for Jamaica. The country has earnestly worked to establish serious fiscal plans, adopt practical macroeconomic policies, and create a friendly climate for outside investors. Perhaps the immediate opportunity for economic growth lies in ‘ganja tourism’ or ‘health and wellness tourism,’ which has the potential to provide the same kind of economic success that has occurred in states like Colorado and Washington. As Jamaica moves forward, we all realize the importance of implementing the needs and considerations of local farmers who have been growing cannabis for years as well as the needs of patients, caregivers, and anyone involved in the industry.

“Based on our involvement with Jamaica, we believe that the country’s cannabis industry will evolve with very positive outcomes,” said Dr. Aseem Sappal, Oaksterdam’s Provost and Dean of Faculty. “An example of this is evident in the upcoming Rastafari Rootzfest™ to be held December 9th to 11th this year.”

The annual festival was launched in November 2015 as Jamaica’s first legal ganja event after receiving approval from Cabinet and the Ministry of Justice in August.   The now  annual event is sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund in the Ministry of Tourism and endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Ministry of Entertainment Culture Gender and Sports, the Negril Chamber of Commerce and the Westmoreland Hemp & Ganja Farmers Association.

jamaicabookingweb“Rastafari Rootzfest is a three day and night celebration of Jamaica’s indigenous culture with a focus on the education of grassroots farmers and investors through its seminar series ,” said veteran ganja advocate Ras Iyah V, who leads  the festival’s management team. “We are working with a wide circle of strategic partners in the Rastafari, grassroots and cannabis fraternities to ensure the sustainable success of Rastafari Rootzfest as a strategic annual calendar event for Jamaica’s cannabis, tourism, wellness and entertainment industries.”

“Oaksterdam is pleased to be the main festival sponsor of Rastafari Rootzfest,” said Sappal. “Attendees will gain valuable information about cannabis and the related industries emerging in Jamaica and worldwide. Our goal is to empower the Rastafarian and grassroots communities to connect with economic opportunities in Jamaica and beyond. Exhibitors, growers, and attendees will have the opportunity to network with stakeholders in the local and global cannabis industry.”

If you’ve dreamed of visiting Jamaica, attending Rastafari Rootzfest would certainly be a great introduction to the indigenous Rastafari culture, Jamaica’s ganja strains, and the country’s wellness legacy. VIP travel packages are available. Book online or call toll-free at 212-803-7212.

Southern Cannabis Summit: New Frontier for Green Education and Awareness



United States map showing the states in which medical (indicated by cross) and adult-use (indicated by smoking joint) are legal. This map is available at norml.org.


If you draw a line connecting the states in which medical cannabis is legal in the United States, it becomes clear that no state in the South has made any real progress. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia have all been dealt failed medical cannabis legislation already in 2016. Three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—have pending legislation or ballot measures in 2016.

Louisiana has an interesting history to legalizing medical cannabis—and one that illustrates the need for education in our southern states. In 1978, the state legalized medical cannabis for patients with glaucoma and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment and, in 1991, the Legislature amended the 1978 law to include spastic quadriplegia to the list of ailments that qualified for medical marijuana. Over the years, there’s been fits and starts in legislation but interestingly the word “prescribe” has always been used to define how doctors could provide medical cannabis to patients. Even as recently as 2015, the state legislature passed a law that failed to legalize medical cannabis as intended because the bill said doctors could “prescribe” cannabis, which is against federal law. Fortunately for Louisiana, the bill was corrected this year and the governor signed this “dormant” legislation into law in late May. Separate legislation, which provides exemption from prosecution for anyone lawfully in possession of medical marijuana is still pending. Both of these laws will make Louisiana the 25th state to legalize medical cannabis.

Making change depends on education and awareness. Subtle differences such as “prescribing” and “recommending” medical cannabis can make or break a piece of legislation. But there are many other issues related to medical cannabis that can help doctors, nurses, attorneys, elected officials, care givers and medical and legal students understand how to move forward legally and with understanding.

That’s why Oaksterdam University has become a sponsor of the Southern Cannabis Summit to be held on June 10 and 11 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Designed for medical and legal professionals but open to anyone wanting to learn about the benefits of cannabis, the Southern Cannabis Summit will focus on cannabis as medicine and cannabis law.

A number of Oaksterdam faculty will participate in the summit including Dale Sky Jones, Dr. Aseem Sappal, Jeff Jones, and Chris Conrad. Other speakers include the Honorable Mike Ward, Eric Sterling, Genester Wilson-King, Jonathan Miller, Tara Fein, Jasper Ward, and Alex Davis.

The program is CLE pending for 3-5 general credits and is seeking accreditation in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Topics covered will include:

  • Evolution of Medical Cannabis Policy and Law
  • Legal Update on Industrial Hemp and Hemp-Infused CBD
  • Cannabis Sativa: Plant Physiology and Extractions
  • Methods of Ingestion and Titration
  • Science of Cannabis and Endocannabinoid System
  • CBD and Aging
  • Liability Laws for Cannabis as Medicine
  • Maintaining a Legal Practice in an Illegal Market
  • Federal and State Cannabis Laws
  • Emerging Legal Practice Areas
  • Cannabis Application in Veterinary Care

As a special treat of being in Louisville, the summit includes an afternoon at Churchill Downs (which is filling up fast!).

June 10 and 11 is coming up quickly. If you live or practice in a southern state, consider attending this valuable summit. At $199, this educational event is affordable! And, there’s still time to register!




The First State to Legalize Medical Marijuana is Finally About to Get it Right, Civilized, May 17, 2016

A Short History of Medical Marijuana in Louisiana, The Times-Picayune

States Considering Medical Marijuana Legalization (as of May 20, 2016), ProCon.org