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Higher Learning: Marijuana Colleges

For much of the last two months, I've been in Louisiana, my home state, and Mississippi and Alabama covering the oil spill crisis. (Read about the mess here, here and here.) Anyway, in the new edition of TIME, I write about how the growth of marijuana colleges is taking shape in Southfield, Mich., a Detroit suburb. Here's an excerpt:

This is what a medical-marijuana class looks like. Twenty-five or so students — men, women, young, middle-aged — listen attentively as an instructor holds up a leafy green plant and runs down the list of nutrients it needs. Nitrogen: stimulates leaf and stem growth. Magnesium: helps leaf structure. Phosphorous: aids in the germination of seeds. Michigan's Med Grow Cannabis College is one of several unaccredited schools to have sprung up in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical use of marijuana. Many of its students suffer from chronic pain. Others are looking to supply those in need of relief.

The Med Grow campus sits across the street from a KFC in Southfield, a relatively prosperous suburb of Detroit. Nearly one-fifth of its 90 or so students are former auto-industry workers. These recent enrollees — and the more than 1,000 people who have completed courses at Med Grow since it opened in September — are betting that studying such topics as bloom cycles and advanced pruning techniques will help them succeed in what may be one of the few growth industries in Michigan, home of the nation's highest unemployment rate: 14%. With medical marijuana fetching as much as $500 for 1 oz. (28 g), providing it to a mere five patients could generate $10,000 a month in sales....

Read the full story here.

Oh, and one update: In May, Michigan's unemployment rate improved slightly, to 13.6%, the federal Department of Labor reported last week. Now, Nevada is saddled with the nation's highest unemployment rate, 14%.

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