A PHD in THC and CBD?
Well, not quite but Okanagan College has opened up their continuing education courses to the emerging industry of medicinal and recreation marijuana.
From greenhouse pest management techniques and business fundamentals to retail sales training and growing your own — Okanagan College said they have partnered with experts across the region and beyond to develop a diverse offering of courses.
“This is a fluid and dynamic field full of aspiring producers and investors,” said Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, director of continues studies and corporate training at Okanagan College. “The courses we have developed bring a unique educational experience to people interested in the sector. Our goal is to be ahead of the curve and find innovative ways to serve workers and employers in the Okanagan-Shuswap as the industry gains momentum.”
Legislation legalizing cannabis usage will come into effect on Oct. 17, making initial interest in the education courses the college offers strong. The Growing Your Own Cannabis course has already filled to capacity, promoting the college to explore adding another intake this fall.
Silvestrone points out there is also a host of information, such as workplace policies, that employers will need to educate themselves on.
“There’s far more to cannabis training than the cultivation side of things,” he said. “The implications around cannabis and the workplace, around facility practices and business fundamentals are vast and far-reaching and so we’re working to provide as diverse a programming array as possible to serve the community.”
According to the college, it is not surprising that the cannabis industry would look to the Okanagan as an ideal environment, due to the region’s long growing season. They said the potential for licensed cannabis producers to set up businesses in the area means more jobs for people in an emerging industry, much like the growth brought by the wine industry.
Jeff Thorne, cultivation manager at Sunniva, who are building a new greenhouse facility in Okanagan Falls, has years of experience in the cannabis industry and has been involved in the development of the course materials at the college.
“The cannabis training courses offered at Okanagan College are more than just theory,” said Thorne. “Created by veteran cannabis industry professionals, they give students tactile learning experiences. Individuals may have a background in the industry, but no idea on how to successfully commercialize their businesses. These courses are designed to help people understand the regulations and licensing requirements needed to meet current medical cannabis industry demands and take their production processes to the next level.”
The production process for medical grade marijuana is carefully regulated to maintain quality.
“When you’re growing a product on a farm and delivering it to a pharmacy, you have to understand the quality assurance process. These courses will deliver that knowledge,” said Thorne.
According to the college, labour market predictions indicate the industry will see greatest demand for semi-skilled jobs in areas such as canopy maintenance, pest management, processing and extraction. Thorne notes that opportunities for on-the-job training do exist, and workers who take steps to build a foundation of industry knowledge will excel.
The college became one of the first in the sector in B.C. to implement a cannabis course through its school of business last fall. The Emerging Marijuana Industry was the name of the course taught by David Cram, a 26-year veteran college business professor. It illuminated students to the regulatory process and emerging business impacts of legalization, in the context of the Canadian economy.
Intakes for the courses offered through the college’s continuing studies department begin in September. Course details, tuition and application information can be found online at okanagan.bc.ca/cannabistraining.
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