Marijuana schools in Colorado: A guide to higher learning

And to think that your high-school guidance counselor said you'd never make it to college when he caught you smoking pot in the bathroom.

These days, Colorado boasts a number of education programs devoted to medical marijuana. Whether you want to learn how to become a state-certified patient, grow your own medicine or even launch a dispensary business, there's a class for it. To keep them straight, we've broken down the main options into our version of U.S. News & World Report's college rankings -- with a cannabis-infused spin.

CANNABIS UNIVERSITY Contact info: 303-886-7998, Curriculum: All-day class held the second Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as specialized classes from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday evenings once a month. Location: Public locations around Denver. What is taught: With a primer on Colorado and federal marijuana laws as well as the basics of pot growing in this state, the all-in-one class may be a good choice for folks just getting into the medical marijuana scene. Specialized classes focus on more advanced techniques, including how to make marijuana edibles and prepare tinctures. Cost: $250 for the all-in-one class (includes admission for a friend), $100 for specialized classes. Professors: A variety of local experts, including the Candy Girls, a sought-after trio of edibles-makers. Extracurricular activities: Cannabis University has a small speakers' bureau featuring experts who can be booked for ninety-minute appointments. It also sells a $125 "Colorado caregivers business start-up kit" and offers a "Cannabis University Honor Student" apparel line, perfect for class photos. Diploma: Graduates receive a certificate of completion and ongoing alumni support services, says Michelle LaMay, the school's self-professed "Dean of Green." If it were a normal college, it would be: Harvard, the country's oldest higher learning institution, since Cannabis U. was the state's first medical marijuana school. Maybe Dean LaMay will take a cue from Harvard's Let's Go guides and create a line of travel books highlighting top weed locales the world over.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA 101, LLC Contact info: 303-434-8991, Curriculum: Full- or half-day classes one Saturday a month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Location: The Lobby, 2191 Arapahoe Street in Denver. What is taught: Geared toward lawyers and business owners, each one-day class is broken into two parts. The morning session covers the basics of Colorado medical marijuana law, while the more advanced afternoon session details business-compliance issues, such as how to meet workplace safety and health standards. Cost: Attorneys pay $495 for the all-day class and $345 for the half-day session, while non-lawyers and law students receive significant discounts. Professors: Warren Edson, one of the organizers behind Colorado's medical marijuana law, runs the show; he's teamed up with Matthew Kumin, a preeminent California medical marijuana lawyer. The two men teach similar classes in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they plan to incorporate cooking classes taught by Wanda James and Scott Durrah, owners of Denver's 8 Rivers restaurant and the Apothecary of Colorado dispensary. Extracurricular activities: Medical Marijuana 101 sponsors a concert series (because we all know that lawyers like to get down). Diploma: Graduates of the advanced class receive a cannabis business-compliance manual, and Edson has applied to the state to see if students can get continuing legal education credits for the classes. If it were a normal college, it would be: Yale Law School. With no Skull and Bones secret society.

CANNA-BUSINESS INSTITUTE Contact info: 303-260-9739, Curriculum: A four-week class held on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. Location: 2119 Curtis Street in Denver. What is taught: Designed for potential medical marijuana business owners and employees, the program offers one session each on marijuana law, accounting and taxes, legal rights and caregiving best practices. Cost: $999 for all four sessions, or $200 to $500 per class. Professors: Brian Vicente and Sean McAllister, the legal mavens behind the drug-policy reform organization Sensible Colorado, as well as a team of CPAs and dispensary operators. Extracurricular activities: Calling all Glee wannabes! Vicente says the legal rights sessions involve play-acting scenarios that students tend to take pretty seriously. "There are some very passionate people in this business," he says. "There are some actors who show up." Diploma: A certificate of completion. If it were a normal college, it would be: The Berklee College of Music.

GREENWAY UNIVERSITY Contact info: 888-694-2033, Curriculum: Two-day weekend seminars held once or twice a month. Location: Westin Tabor Center, 1672 Lawrence Street in Denver. What is taught: These large-attendance seminars cover how to start a dispensary or cannabis delivery service, how to run daily operations, and complying with state laws. Cost: $295. Professors: A variety of business professionals. Extracurricular activities: While it's based in Los Angeles, Greenway University is apparently expanding into Colorado in a big way. Its CEO says the company is planning to build a Denver campus featuring (non-accredited) MBA and Ph.D. degree programs. Diploma: Students will receive a variety of textbooks, resource guides and handouts. If it were a normal college, it would be: Stanford, and not just because it's from California. From the sounds of it, Greenway University is aiming to turn Denver into the Silicon Valley of weed.

CANNABIS THERAPY INSTITUTE Contact info: 877-420-4205, Curriculum: A variety of classes on a range of topics. Location: Various locations in Boulder and Colorado Springs. What is taught: Laura Kriho, the dynamo behind the Cannabis Therapy Institute advocacy group, is coordinating an assortment of medical marijuana classes up and down the Front Range. Subjects range from free seminars on how to become a certified patient to "Cannabis Cultivation 101" with Reverend Bob and Brother Bud. Cost: Free to $150, depending on the class (keep an eye on the website for coupon codes). Professors: A wide spectrum of Colorado's cannabis community, including lawyers, growers, doctors and patient advocates. Extracurricular activities: Classes are just a small part of Cannabis Therapy Institute's mission. The organization has also taken an active role in lobbying for medical marijuana rights at the Capitol and calling for "Colorado grown" sources of pot. Diploma: Depending on the class, graduates get a certificate of completion and class materials. If it were a normal college, it would be: Metro State, since both schools offer wide-ranging, idealistic approaches to education. But CTI doesn't have as many parking problems.