Niagara College To Offer Country’s First Graduate Weed Program

Photo by Nico Escondido

It looks like Oaksterdam University might have some competition. Earlier this week, administrative officials at Niagara College, located in Welland, Ontario announced their plan to institute a post-graduate, one-year program focused solely on the production of marijuana—becoming the first college in the country to do so.

Demand, Meet Supply

Niagara’s pot program, which will be open to 25 candidates with undergraduate degrees in the fields of agribusiness, agricultural sciences, environmental science, natural sciences, horticulture or any experience related to these fields, is engineered to focus on particular branches of industry that have cropped up in the age of the Green Rush. The campus will contain an on-site growing facility; concentrations will focus on anything from plant pathology, cultivating crops in adherence to Canadian policies, and more.

The new course intends to build off of a two-year greenhouse technician program already in place.

Their incentives for the program are simple: getting ahead of the industry before it really takes off.

“We’re a pre-emptive college, and one of our key strengths is our ability to anticipate and respond to emerging industries, trends and labor-market needs,” Niagara College president Dan Patterson said in a statement to the press.

“The program reflects the college’s mandate to develop responsive applied learning programs that address industry needs—much like our commercial beekeeping, culinary innovation, renewable energy technician and other programs,” Patterson added.

The implementation of the post-grad course will come just in time for Canada’s recently-passed measure to legalize cannabis nationwide. As of now, the new law will go into effect in July 2018.

Industry and Beyond

While business might be a major animus for Niagara College’s newest venture, it isn’t the only one. As Niagara’s associate dean of environmental and horticultural studies Al Unwin noted, the program could have some major—and positive—ramifications on research and development in the field of medicinal marijuana, from the production of the substance to the legalities of it.

“There’s a huge need for highly-skilled well-trained workers who are not only knowledgeable about the crop itself, but the legal requirements governed by Health Canada,” Ulwin relayed to reporters.

Indeed, Niagara’s post-grad curriculum might be the first of its kind in Canada, but it certainly isn’t the first-ever program. Late last year, community colleges within the province of New Brunswick announced similar programs to Niagara’s—albeit with an all-francophone syllabus—aimed at undergraduates with an eye for entry-level positions in the cannabis industry.

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