Article by Joseph Hall, Toronto Star
Call it higher education if you must.
But since cannabis was legalized in Canada last year, courses dedicated to the plant have taken root on college and university campuses across the country.
According to the Cannabis Council of Canada, at least 12 post-secondary schools have joined the budding educational boom, having launched programs — or announced plans to do so — covering everything from production research and training to marijuana law and business.
“In this sector it was going from amateur production to professional production … and that takes expertise,” says Rene Van Acker, dean of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College.
“It’s like the difference between growing some tomatoes in your backyard and being a tomato supplier for Loblaws,” says Van Acker, whose school is in the process of opening the country’s largest cannabis program.
Another of the early entrants into the new cannabis league was Loyalist College, which sits on the western edge of Belleville off the Bay of Quinte.
“There’s an incredible gap in the sector as it relates to knowledge in terms of the science of cannabis, and applying that knowledge to product development,” says Kari Kramp, head of Loyalist’s Cannabis Applied Science Program.
“We were able to fill that gap,” says Kramp, whose post-graduate course began last October. “It’s an innovative, dynamic hands-on program.”
The program — which grows and uses live marijuana plants — will prepare students to enter the industry with skills in areas such as the development of new pot products and quality and safety assurance, she says.
Students will also study the intricate regulatory frameworks that govern cannabis production and sales at the federal and provincial levels.