Canadian college set to teach weed growing course in 2018

Hold onto your hats, students, because the greatest course in history has just been cleared in Canada, and you're going to want to enrol. It's something all of us have wanted to do, but in most parts of the world it's illegal. However, one college in Canada is now offering students the chance to grow their own pot.

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Yep, that's right: marijuana, weed, Mary Jane, dank, ganja, the devil's lettuce – whatever you call it, you can now study it thanks to Niagara College. The course has been given its own greenhouse, a curriculum and has passed the necessary approvals needed. Now all it needs is 25 students to fill its classrooms (I'm sure there will be plenty of applicants) to learn how to grow the good stuff.

Niagara College, which is located in the heart of Ontario wine country, announced on Tuesday that it will begin a one-year post-graduate program in commercial cannabis production, which is apparently the first of its kind in Canada.

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Sadly, the course isn't available to any Tom, Dick and Harry, with those who choose to study it having to hold a diploma or degree in horticulture, agricultural science or related fields of study in order to qualify to get into the program.

Al Unwin, Associate Dean of Environmental and Horticultural Studies, said that the course will combine the fine details of plant pathology as well as looking at how to grow a healthy crop that is in line with the complex regulations, standards and legal requirements for legal producers of cannabis.

Unwin said that the program came to fruition due to consultations with producers where he identified a growing demand for trained workers in the field, which currently includes 59 producers in Canada, with 32 in Ontario alone.

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“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,” he said.

Niagara College currently has a two-year greenhouse technician program and Unwin feels like the new course "seemed like a logical fit" to the curriculum. He said that some of the students who are currently studying the greenhouse program will more than likely be the first classmates for the new certificate, which will begin in 2018.

At the moment, the curriculum for the course is based on current marijuana legislation, which limits commercial production of cannabis to medical marijuana, hemp fibre and hemp seed. However, as regulations change, Unwin says that the college will "certainly be consulting with licensed producers", in order to keep the curriculum up-to-date and relevant.

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The federal government in Canada has announced plans to legalize recreational marijuana next summer, although the rules surrounding distribution, licensing and retail sales will be left to each province to iron-out as they see fit.

It's not the first eyebrow-raising course to be offered up by the Niagara College, with their commercial beekeeping program causing a buzz online earlier this year. Unwin says the the college aims to offer unique courses and that the newest program is reflective of their strategy of being "pre-emptive" when it comes to training workers in new and unusual fields.

The program will include practical experience producing cannabis as well as working in facilities of commercial producers. Hopefully it will also involve some taste tests as well...