December 14, 2018

By JOSH PEDERSON


The Liberal government’s legislation on the legalization of recreational marijuana is right around the corner and soon, eager consumers will have full access to the piquant plant.

The new law will allow users over the age of 19 to purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana for their personal consumption within a private residence. In Ontario, marijuana operations will be regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

With legalization set to roll out nationwide this July, educational opportunities are springing up, with Ontario becoming Canada’s first province to offer a marijuana-related program at the college level.

The commercial cannabis production program is a one-year certificate program being offered at Niagara College Canada’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. Applicants who apply must have already obtained a post-secondary diploma in the field of horticulture, agricultural science, biology, plant sciences or greenhouse technology.

The program will aim to tackle the complex intricacies involved in marijuana licensing and prepare individuals who are looking to enter the workplace.

According to the Niagara College website, by the end of the program, graduates will have learned how to “design and implement plant nutrition, lighting programs and integrated pest management to support optimal crop growth and quality” and be able to “comply with all regulatory and trade requirements for the safe and legal production and packaging of cannabis.”

The college’s president, Dan Patterson, said in an interview with Global News, that “the program is meant to address a growing labour market need in the wake of legislative changes in Canada and abroad.”

This begs the question as to whether other colleges will follow suit.

“I have heard that Durham College and possibly Seneca College are considering programs,” said Michelle Grimes, chair of Conestoga College’s School of Business.

Gary Hallam, executive dean of Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality and Media and Design, said, “At this point Conestoga has no courses or programs planned in or around this area. I have also checked with our vice-president of academic administration, Barbara Kelly, to confirm.”

The success of the program at Niagara College will likely determine the future of marijuana-related programs elsewhere. Their program will begin this September.

Although Conestoga administrators don’t know yet whether the college will someday offer marijuana programs, one Conestoga student gave the idea a green thumbs up.

“I think it would be awesome for Conestoga to offer a marijuana program,” said Adam Voisin, a renewable energy techniques student.

Colleges across the country will be carefully monitoring Niagara College’s new program offering to determine whether to implement their own programs.

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