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Niagara College offers Canada's first cannabis production program

Last Updated Sep 5, 2018 at 6:59 pm EST

Niagara College has become the first in Canada to offer a Commercial Cannabis Production program at the college’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.

The 24-student class started on Wednesday, and will study all aspects of the cannabis industry, including things like interpreting data to assess crop health and quality, learning to comply with all regulatory and trade requirements for the safe and legal production and packaging of cannabis, and how to execute appropriate protocols to ensure safety and security.

The program coordinator Bill MacDonald says they developed the classes at the request of industry professionals. “Especially now that licensed producers are scaling up to upwards of a million square feet, you need a lot of expertise and you need a lot of science and that’s where we fit in.”

Classes will be held in a purpose-built and fully secure facility built to industry safety standards.

“We know when we come out of it we’re going to have all the skills that licensed producers are looking for,” student Elizabeth Foley told CityNews “We’ll be great workers in their facilities.”

And according the the Associate Dean of the program, Alan Unwin, those students will have plenty of jobs to chose from. “Page after page of immediate hiring needs that they have. Senior growers, head growers, quality assurance and quality control managers, certainly the opportunities will be there for every single grad to be hired if that’s the career they end up pursuing,” Unwin said.

And that is what’s exciting about the cannabis industry to these students.

“The cannabis industry is about to explode on October 17th, and I feel like everybody is just going to be scrambling for people,” said Rob Clements, who hopes to land a job immediately after receiving his graduate certificate.

The first class will finish the program next April.