Q&A with Darren McCrea

The pot activist explains his new University of Spokamsterdam.

Darren McCrea - CHRIS BOVEY
Chris Bovey
Darren McCrea

For the past 10 years, Darren McCrea’s life has been medical marijuana. He launched Spocannabis, a patient support group and proto-dispensary before dispensaries existed. He manned a cannabis booth at Pig Out in the Park before most people had heard the word “cannabis.” Four years ago, he was arrested for growing pot in his basement to combat his rheumatoid arthritis. And now he’s back with the University of Spokamsterdam, a small business on Spokane’s near north side that provides classes where medical marijuana patients can learn about law, science, health, cooking and horticulture — all of it devoted to marijuana.

INLANDER: Tell me about the university.

McCREA: I met Mike [Levers, co-founder of the university] when he joined Spocannabis in 2003. We started talking about this idea. We’re good friends. It was a natural fit. First, you have to have a medical authorization to be able to take part in our classes. We have a class about federal, state and municipal law taught by an attorney. We have a “Health and Science” class taught by an R.N. named Kathy. We have a “History and Advocacy” class by Carol Taylor, who has a Ph.D. We have “Cooking with Cannabis.”

Can I graduate from the university?

Yes. You get a diploma at the end. We started at the beginning of the year and we should have our first graduation next week. I think we’ll have about 16 graduates.

What are your thoughts on last year’s dispensary raids?

I sat down when the dispensary folks were putting signs with big pot leafs on Main Street. They were advertising in newspapers and just being too forward with it. I sat down when they were all standing up. I don’t think it needs to be right on Main Street so kids are asking their parents what it’s about. Get a block or two off Main Street. Have some respect for the city and your surroundings and your neighbors.

Are you voting in favor of I-502, which would completely legalize pot?

I was against it because of the DUI test [for marijuana]. That kind of hung me up a little bit. But for the greater good, I’ll probably vote for it. We can address those things afterwards.

Will you shut the college down if I-502 passes?

Cannabis will still be medicine. There will still be patients who will want to be able to grow.

For more information, go to universityofspokamsterdam.com.

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About The Author

Nicholas Deshais

Nicholas Deshais is a former news editor and staff writer for The Inlander. He has reported on city, county and state politics, as well as medical marijuana, transportation and development. In May 2012, he was named as a finalist for the prestigious Livingston Award for an Inlander story about (now former) Assistant...