Cannabis courses are coming to a Calgary campus.
Mount Royal University announced Thursday that beginning in September it will offer three courses aimed at helping students break into the recreational and medical cannabis industries.
“Right now what we’re most focused on is giving students the tools and the knowledge to get out in this new emerging industry and succeed. That’s part of the excitement of this, there’s endless possibilities ahead,” said Brad Mahon, Faculty of Continuing Education Dean at MRU.
The online courses will focus on plant production, facility management, sales and marketing. Business planning and regulation will play an important role in the courses because of strict government legislation and municipal bylaws.
“Anybody can grow a marijuana plant, but to grow it well is a science,” said Mahon.
MRU is partnering with Kwantlen Polytechnic University in B.C., which has offered cannabis education since 2015. This partnership extends the network of cannabis educators in Canada, since Kwanten has also partnered with post-secondary institutions in eastern provinces.
“This industry is going to be so large that no one institution will really own it or be the juggernaut or the leader,” said Mahon.
Salvador Ferreras, Kwantlen provost, said the Vancouver school was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to offer cannabis courses.
“MRU is about to see a very high uptake and it takes resources to do that. The opportunity is out there for an industry that is very big, and much of which hasn’t even been explored yet,” said Ferreras.
Geoff Thompson, president of Sundial, an Alberta pot producer, said it’s important to educate people on cannabis production just like any other work field.
“We’ve had to reach out and train everybody that comes to work for us, we’ve had to train them in the business,” said Thompson.
“There has to be knowledge about how the cannabis legislation and regulations work in the country.”
Sundial employs just over 45 people and is expecting to produce more than 150 million grams of product by 2020, which means they will need to employ between 500 and 700 people to meet increased product demand, brand and quality.
“The educated workforce will become a competitive advantage to the companies who can hire the best-trained people,” said Thompson.
He said he expects people will be able to get jobs immediately after finishing the cannabis courses that are being introduced at universities across the country because of the high demand.
The University of Calgary doesn’t have a cannabis production program in the works.
To assist with employment demand, the Marijuana Job Board was created for Canadians seeking jobs in the industry. The board includes jobs in each province and enables pot producers to find people interested in learning about the business.
Karen Stokke, the Learning Manager at Cannabis at Work, said the cannabis industry is about to expand quickly and education is the first step.
“There is a big demand for that education and having people who understand the industry is not that stoner cliche that people might think it is. It’s a very highly structured and highly regulated industry,” Stokke said.
As the courses are being offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education at MRU, they will be open to the public. The courses run between eight to 13 weeks and MRU expects to accept 30 students this fall.
Registration for the cannabis courses starts June 11. The university says enrolment will not be affected if the implementation of legal cannabis is delayed past July 1.
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