Marijuana, hemp's narcotic cousin, is the subject of federal plans for expanded legalization.
Degree and diploma aggies interested in producing commercial cannabis and/or hemp will be able to get college-certified starting next year.
Niagara College recently announced it will launch a graduate certificate program in commercial cannabis production in 2018, a program it bills as Canada’s “first post-secondary credential” in the crop’s production.
Niagara picked up approval this summer from Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to offer the one-year post-graduate program, for students who already have either a diploma or degree from an accredited college or university in agribusiness, agricultural sciences, environmental science/resource studies, horticulture or natural sciences, or an “acceptable combination of education and experience.”
The program, running through the college’s School of Environment and Horticulture, is expected to prepare graduates to work in licensed production of cannabis, whether to produce licensed marijuana for the therapeutic drug market, hemp plants for fibre or hempseed for hemp oil.
“Driven by legislative changes in Canada and abroad, there is a growing labour market need, and education will be a key component of the success of this emerging industry,” Al Unwin, the School of Environmental and Horticulture’s associate dean, said in a release.
The program, he said, “will produce graduates who are skilled and knowledgeable greenhouse and controlled environment technicians who are also trained in all of the procedures, requirements, regulations and standards for this industry.”
Topics to be covered include plant nutrition, environment, lighting, climate control, pest control, plant pathology and cultivar selection as well as regulations and business software applications.
Niagara College said the program will conform to all regulations and requirements, including a “separate and highly secure learning environment/growing facility.” It’s also expected to include a field placement with a licensed producer in its second semester.
Applicants will have to be at least 19 years old by the start of classes, and will also have to undergo a police check “at minimum” to ensure their eligibility to apply for an Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) license.
The program will run at the college’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, where it operates various other agribusiness programs, facilities and research projects.
Roger Ferreira, CEO of Hamilton-based Beleave, Inc., which operates licensed marijuana producer First Access Medical, hailed the college in its release for “having the vision to fill this knowledge gap,” citing “tremendous demand for knowledgeable, skilled workers in this highly technical industry.”
Niagara College to offer post-grad training in cannabis production
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