Niagara College, in southern Ontario province of Canada, is going to offer a one-year post-secondary credential in the production of commercial cannabis. They say the graduate certificate program will launch in the fall of 2018 and aims to prepare students to work in the licensed production of cannabis, which includes marijuana, hemp fiber, and hemp seed.
This certificate program was recently approved by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. Niagara’s president, Dan Patterson, says the program is meant to address a growing labor market need in the wake of legislative changes in Canada and abroad and will conform to all regulations and requirements.
The first students, who must have previously earned a diploma or degree in horticulture, agricultural sciences or related fields to qualify for the program, will be part of Niagara’s class of 2019. They sat this course is the first of its kind in Canada, and that consultations with growers identified a growing demand for skilled workers, especially those who understand the legislation at home and abroad.
Though Niagara College may be the first to offer a post-grad certification program, they are far from the first North American college or university to be offering classes to fill a growing need in the labor market of cannabis production.
Other College Courses & Options
About a year ago, in October 2016, Business Insider and Reuters reported that French-language College Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick in the Canadian province of New Brunswick planned to launch a horticulture program on cannabis cultivation to prepare students to work at local marijuana companies. Two months prior, in August of last year, the New Brunswick government invested just over USD $3 million in a local medical marijuana company, creating over 200 jobs in the province of only 750,000, which has reportedly been suffering from a weak economy.
Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned last year on a promise to legalize recreational marijuana and he has followed through, introducing legislation earlier this year. Recreational-use marijuana is expected to be legalized by Canada Day 2018 (July). Medical marijuana has been legalized nationwide previously, and many medical cannabis cultivators and distributors have been looking to the future and expansion for recreational use.
The United States has started offering some courses here and there. Most notably, according to Wikipedia, Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA, is recognized as America’s first cannabis college. The educational facility was founded in November 2007 by medical marijuana activist Richard Lee to offer quality training for the cannabis industry, with a mission to “legitimize the business and work to change the law to make cannabis legal.” The university’s curriculum reaches all aspects of the medical marijuana industry, from horticulture to legal issues, politics, history, civics, economics, extracts, topical applications, business management, dispensary management, delivery business, cooking with cannabis and much more.
The Cannabis Career Institute is a business training center founded by Robert Calkin, a lifelong advocate of cannabis legalization and medical marijuana, in 2009. He has been in the cannabis industry for over 30 years, including as a consultant on the television show “Weeds” and a Professor of Delivery at Oaksterdam. Robert founded CCI to provide a support system for people trying to start their own medical marijuana businesses, creating a curriculum focusing specifically on compliance and how to create and market brands.
The Cannabis Career Institute and Dunlap-Stone University in Phoenix, Arizona, has a 3-credit-hour course called The Modern Cannabis Industry. According to their website, the course “is an elective in the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration degree program, explores the modern cannabis industry from the perspective of the emerging industry and its career possibilities. It briefly discusses the history of cannabis in the U.S., including the myths and stigma associated with the plant. It examines the recent phenomena of medical usage and scientific discoveries related to cannabis and its derivatives. Emphasis is placed on understanding the various emerging career opportunities within the industry for those who possess the requisite skill sets. The course also examines the current legal issues and other challenges facing this growth industry.”
While OU and CCI are cannabis-centric institutions, more mainstream universities are providing courses. These include “Business and Law of Marijuana” at Hofstra University in New York, “Marijuana Law and Policy” at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, and “Business Opportunities Related to Marijuana Legalization” at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.
Courses like these and placing importance on educating the next generation of cannabis workers is extremely important. We want capable, intelligent, interested, educated people as the driving force behind regulations and the general cannabis industry. As marijuana legalization continues to become the norm and press forward, classes that teach people the realities of the cannabis industry help companies find employees who are already familiar with the marijuana business and the issues it faces through state and federal regulations, pressures, and more.
What are your thoughts on university and college courses in horticulture, marijuana production, and the law?