College Shows Entrepreneurs How To Succeed In Pot Business


Dale Sky Jones, head of Oaksterdam University

BY LEE HERNANDEZ -- Budding entrepreneurs hoping to break into the marijuana dispensary business could soon get their chance in Nevada. Assembly bill 402, currently before the state legislature, would make recreational use of marijuana legal here.

Even when they're operating legally under a state law, marijuana dispensaries can run afoul of the federal government. While states like Colorado and Washington have recently legalized recreational use, the federal government at any point can shut down marijuana businesses. In 2011, federal agents raided medical marijuana businesses in Montana and one grower faced up to 90 years in jail.

“It’s most important to learn what not to do when setting up a marijuana business,” said Dale Sky Jones, executive chancellor at Okserdam University, an Oakland-based college that trains students in everything from the business of pot to horticulture. “You’ve got an additional set of risks when it comes to the marijuana industry,” Sky Jones said in an interview with KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Support comes from

For example, she says banking can be difficult for pot entrepreneurs. Federal law and pressure from the FDIC on banks to report businesses they suspect of illegal activity, like selling marijuana, lead to difficulty in paying taxes, paying employee salaries and paying for health care benefits.

“First and foremost you have to realize this is still illegal under federal law and you have a heightened sense of risk and responsibility when you realize that even if your state says it’s ok the feds can still practice selective prosecution and if you are successful you’re more likely to be selected for prosecution.”


The group Cannabis Career Institute recently announced a series of workshops in Las Vegas for those interested in starting  a marijuana business. Sky Jones shared her top tips for running a credible and legitimate marijuana business.

·         A well-lit and clean facility.

·         Properly stored product.

·         Employees who are well-groomed and presentable, with washed hands.

·         Clearly labeled marijuana with expiration dates, and child warning labels.

“How you handle it (marijuana) is very important, making sure you don’t have something like a cat walking across your counter. It’s not the cannabis that will make you sick, it’s the E. coli that will make you sick. That is the responsibility of the business owner to make sure they are complying with every rule and regulation including those of the health department,” Sky Jones said.

A bipartisan group of Nevada lawmakers recently toured marijuana facilities in Arizona to get a better idea of how pot facilities are run. Assembly Bill 402 is currently in committee.  


KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap