(Canadian Press photo)

B.C. universities, colleges offering more training for marijuana industry

A university in Surrey is training students for the future of legalized pot

From growing the perfect crop to marketing within restrictive rules, Canadian colleges and universities are cultivating courses for those wanting to work in the booming marijuana industry.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University started offering online courses in cannabis production, marketing and financing about three years ago after officials at the British Columbia school realized there was a need for training and education around medicinal marijuana, said David Purcell, the university’s director of emerging business.

READ: Pot shops speak out on B.C.’s proposed rules on age, retail plan

Demand is skyrocketing, prompting Kwantlen to offer the classes every four weeks instead of every eight to keep up with demand, he said.

“The uptake in the last six months or so, the demand has risen significantly as we approach recreational legalization, obviously. You can’t go a day without seeing some sort of news about cannabis or regulation of the upcoming recreational market,” Purcell said.

About 1,200 people have taken the classes, most of whom are between 25 and 40 years old and were working full-time in another industry, he said.

The university isn’t alone in offering marijuana-related courses. Niagara College is working on a certificate in marijuana production and the New Brunswick Community College is already teaching cultivation.

There’s been a void in the educational marketplace when it comes to training specifically for the burgeoning marijuana market, said Debbie Johnston, dean of the school of continuing education at Durham College in Oshawa, Ont.

“Employers are struggling to find people with that industry-specific knowledge. It’s an opportunity that, quite frankly, hasn’t been met and we saw it and we thought, this is a great thing to get into,” she explained.

Durham College recently began offering a two-day course that provides an introduction to all things marijuana.

The first sessions were well attended, Johnston said, attracting a variety of professions, including a chef, a farmer, investors and health-care workers.

Marijuana companies are looking for professionals, like accountants or business managers, who have industry-specific knowledge, from the terminology and history of the industry to the regulatory framework and basics of cannabis plants, Johnston added.

READ: London Drugs ‘ready’ to dispense marijuana

“What employers want is to know that people are coming in with a basic understanding,” she said.

Alison McMahon runs Cannabis at Work, a recruiting agency for marijuana companies, and said completing cannabis courses can help candidates stand out from the crowd.

“I think what it signals more than anything is that somebody has been proactive and they have taken the time to take one of the courses that are on the market,” she said.

Right now, there aren’t a lot of job seekers with cannabis education on their resumes, McMahon noted, but that’s likely to change as both the industry and educational offerings grow.

Kwantlen and Durham College are both planning to expand the variety of marijuana classes on offer.

A course teaching responsible retail sales, safe handling and strain identification will soon be offered through Kwantlen, and the school is also working on a cultivation course that will see students go out and work with cannabis plants at licensed production facilities, Purcell said.

Durham College, meanwhile, is working on an elective about marijuana legalization and a class for medical professionals focused on cannabis in health care, Johnston said.

The new courses will likely be joined by many more down the road as the college prepares workers for the emerging industry, she said.

“It’s growing by leaps and bounds. This is where the jobs are,” she said.

Education will be vital to fighting generations of stigma around the soon-to-be legal product, Purcell said.

“In order for the industry as a whole to gain legitimacy, people really need to know what it’s all about,” he said. ”We have to alleviate the stigma and the way to do that is really teaching people what the industry’s all about.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Flood threat increases at Nelson’s waterfront

Peak expected between May 30 and June 1

MP Cannings’ long-awaited wood-use bill passes in House vote

The private member’s bill is his first to pass the House, a rare feat for rookie MPs in opposition

LETTER: Causing any species to go extinct is a crime

‘The earth is not dying. It is being killed’

COLUMN: A look back at May, 1968

Greg Scott: Touchstones of Nelson

L.V. Rogers grads shine spotlight on talent at annual fundraiser

Show set for Tuesday, May 29 at the Capitol Theatre

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

B.C. teacher charged with sexual offences involving two teens

Henry Kang, 50, of Abbotsford charged with two counts each sex assault and sexual exploitation

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Most Read