Cannabis production courses in southern Alberta centres of higher learning are proving potently popular.
With rapidly-budding interest, some institutions are already looking to expand the scope of that education.
“Obviously, it’s a hot topic area — as soon as we opened it up on May 1, it was sold out and we have a waiting list,” said Tanya McDonald, director of Olds College’s Centre for Innovation.
“We hope to grow the numbers and launch some new courses.”
Three course cohorts of 25 students each are filled up at the college north of Calgary which has a five-decade history of offering horticultural education.
The first of its online courses was launched this month with others following in August and September.
One thing limiting the expansion of the current starter courses are spaces in its hands-on work co-operative phase, said McDonald, adding they’ve partnered with cannabis producers Sundial Growers and Terra Life Sciences.
“We have to ensure everyone gets hands-on experience,” she said.
The campus is just one reason for five companies eyeing setting up a pot grow operation in the Olds area, said MacDonald.
Ottawa setting an Oct. 17 date for legalized cannabis has eroded the stigma around the industry and those learning about it, she said.
“With the federal government’s legislation happening, we’re seeing a bit of a turning in that,” she said, adding the school’s facilities centered on the instruction are highly secure.
Mount Royal University has seen similar enthusiasm for three online courses each seating 30 students on cannabis production, sales, marketing and facility management that will begin in September, said Brad Mahon, dean of the faculty of continuing education.
“We’ve hit 75 per cent capacity for the courses and one of them’s sold out,” he said.
“We’re exploring adding another class.”
He said the news of the university’s offerings has also attracted considerable interest from industry.
“I immediately had six different companies tell me they’d like to talk about skills developments and competencies they need and about developing further curriculum,” said Mahon.
“It’s going to evolve and we want to be responsive and nimble.”
MRU is partnering with Kwantlen Polytechnic University in B.C., which has been involved in such instruction for the past three years.
Veteran Calgary medical cannabis entrepreneur Jeff Mooij said the industry’s “explosion” has brought with it an influx of amateurs lured by the promise and perception of big money.
There’s a need for expertise and better control of a sector that’s in “chaos,” he said.
“You’ve got guys wanting to change their garages into a pot shop,” said Mooij, president of 420 Premium Market, which hopes to break into the recreational weed business.
Alberta’s become a major Canadian hub in cannabis production, while growers in other parts of the country have eyed the province’s marijuana market with considerable favour.
on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn
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