Pubdate: Wed, 20 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Andrea Gordon
Page: A2


First of its kind in Canada, program covers growing pot and its
complex regulations

It's got the greenhouse, the curriculum and the necessary

Now all that's needed are up to 25 students keen on becoming the first
crop of students to earn a post secondary certificate in growing pot.

Niagara College, located in the heart of Ontario wine country,
announced Tuesday it will establish a one-year, post-grad program in
commercial cannabis production, which it says is the first of its kind
in Canada.

The first students, who must have 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."

The program will combine the finer points of plant pathology and how
to grow a healthy crop with courses on the complex regulations,
standards and legal requirements for licensed producers, said Al
Unwin, associate dean of environmental and horticultural studies. He
said consultations with licenced producers identified a growing demand
for trained workers in the emerging industry, which currently includes
59 producers in Canada, of which 32 are in Ontario.

That demand is expected to continue, driven by legislative changes in
Canada and abroad.

"There's a huge need for highlyskilled well-trained workers who are
not only knowledgeable about the crop itself, but the legal
requirements governed by Health Canada," he said.

Niagara currently has a two-year greenhouse technician program "so
this seemed like a logical fit," he added.

Some of those students are likely to be candidates for the new
certificate, which begins in the fall of 2018.

The new program, delivered in 10 courses over two semesters at the
college's campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was approved by the Ministry
of Advanced Education and Skills Development over the summer.

It will include practical experience working in facilities with
commercial producers.

The curriculum is based on current legislation, which limits
commercial production to cannabis used to make medical marijuana, hemp
fibre and hemp seed. As regulations change "we'll certainly be
consulting with licensed producers," Unwin said.

The federal government has said it will legalize recreational
marijuana next summer, although rules around distribution, licensing
and retail sales will be left to the provinces.

Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that
after legalization, sales of recreational marijuana in the province
will be restricted to its 150 LCBO-run stores, which will operate
separately from liquor stores.

Last year, a French-language college in New Brunswick announced plans
for a cannabis technician program, while other organizations offer
online courses. But Unwin said the Niagara College program is unique
and reflects its strategy of being "pre-emptive" when it comes to
training workers in new fields.
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