Pubdate: Mon, 26 Feb 2018
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jane Stevenson
Page: 8


Pot courses sprouting at Ontario colleges

Puff, puff, pass will take on a new meaning when recreational cannabis
becomes legal in Canada later this year.

And not just in the way you might think.

Some Canadian colleges and universities are preparing people for the
thousands of potential new jobs expected to be created as the
country's booming weed industry - valued at $23 billion by accounting
firm Deloitte - transitions from the black market to a legal one with
an estimated 5 million existing customers across the country.

"The growth will be exponential," said Debbie Johnston, dean of the
school of continuing education at Durham College in Oshawa.

"It's just like when prohibition was ended. This is an utterly unique
opportunity in the market. These don't come along very often."

As of last November, Durham College started offering a monthly weekend 
course (moving to twice monthly in April due to demand) called Medical 
Cannabis Fundamentals for Business Professionals, that can accommodate 
30 students in the classroom and 30 remotely. (Cost: $399.95 plus tax 
for two seven-hour days.)

"It gives them a background in the cannabis industry," said Johnston.
"We had an unbelievable range of people take the course. Everything
from business people, investors, lots of health-care providers,
holistic practitioners. We had a pharmacist from the

U.S. We got a farmer. We got a chef. Every course has been totally
booked. And we anticipate that's going to continue because there's a
huge interest and there are lots of job opportunities out there."

In addition to growing and selling marijuana, hemp and seeds, (Ontario
plans to open 150 government-run pot shops), there will be
grass-related work in government, accounting, law, PR, packaging,
transportation, security and tourism.

Niagara College, meanwhile, at its Niagara-on-the-like campus is
offering a year-long, two-semester Commercial Cannabis Production
course this fall for the first time at a cost of $5,000 per semester
(and eligible for the Ontario Students Assistance Program or OSAP).

The first class will hold 24 students with an undergrad degree or
diploma, but demand is such that there will likely be additional
classes accomodating 24 more students in each of the winter and spring

"We've got substantial interest in the program," said Alan Unwin,
associate dean for the school of environmental and horticultural
studies at Niagara College.

"Last time I checked, we were closing in on 300 applicants for 24
openings, with students understanding there's a real possible career
opportunity. The program was approved by the ministry of advanced
education and development over the summer, so in that regard it is the
first academic program to receive that credential and that recognition
in Canada. We were the first. I don't think we'll be the last."

The Niagara College course is geared toward its graduates working
"within a licensed production facility in more senior level positions
with a substantial focus of the curriculum on cultivation of the crop
and then as well understanding the legal framework," said Unwin. "We
are hearing already from those licensed producers (of medicinal
marijuana) that they're really struggling to find highly trained,
well-skilled individuals to work in their facilities. That obviously
will reasonably grow when recreational rules come into play."

One of Canada's leading cannabis activists, Jodie Emery, who divides
her time between Toronto and Vancouver with husband Marc, applauds the
emergence of post-secondary courses in Canada to help people find jobs
in the nascent pot industry.

"These (colleges) and universities that are offering courses, they're
getting ahead of the trend," said Jodie Emery. "They're doing what
(Wayne) Gretzky said, they're going where the puck is going. You know
that in the future that (pot) is going to be around. But it's still
bold to do that because there's a lot of opposition to pot still."

Emery also supports those working in the existing black market keeping
their jobs once recreational pot becomes legal.

"There's this strange purgatory where everyone who's been involved in
pot until now has been doing it illegally," said Emery. "If the
(government) prohibits people with criminal records, those people
already in the industry will still remain in the industry, they're
just going to be criminalized. And so we're losing their expertise,
we're losing their ability to help the market grow, and excluding them
prevents us from taxing and regulating their jobs like anyone else
should be."
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