October 14, 2018 7:00 pm
Updated: October 16, 2018 2:38 pm

High demand for budding cannabis career training programs

Students seeking a career in the cannabis industry can expand their horizons at a Lower Mainland university that is offering a first of its kind program in pot education. Tanya Beja reports.

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As Canada gets set to legalize recreational marijuana use, interest in cannabis-related careers and classes is growing.

“Demand for the courses has been very high and increasing significantly over the past few months,” said David Purcell, director of emerging business at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“I think it’s indicative of how quickly this industry is expanding.”

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READ MORE: Vancouver School Board educating youth about marijuana ahead of legalization

Kwantlen offers one of Canada’s first online cannabis career training programs, with courses covering everything from the history of prohibition to cannabis cultivation and marketing.

“Given that this is a really highly-regulated environment, the students that go through this course understand all the rules and regulations, the laws surrounding cannabis production, marketing and finance,” said Purcell.

WATCH: How will pot legalization impact B.C.?

Chris Orth pursued the program at Kwantlen when he decided to make the career switch from lifeguarding.

“They taught us how to properly provide and care for the plants, and all about the extensive medical regulations,” said Orth, who now works as a grower for Zenabis.

READ MORE: B.C. expects it will take two to three years for legal marijuana industry to ‘mature’

“I think it’s going to be a huge industry and I wanted to be here to see it start and grow.”

According to some estimates, the cannabis industry could create 150,000 new Canadian jobs over the next few years. Currently, the bulk of licensed producers are in Ontario and British Columbia.

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BlissCo CEO Damian Kettlewell said he expects his workforce to double from 15 to 30 next year, as the company moves from production of strictly medical to recreational products as well.

“We’re getting interest from those in the pharmaceutical industry to join, and even those in the regulated sectors like alcohol,” said Kettlewell.

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“The future, we believe, is in oils and extracts and consumables. If you want to get involved with that field then having a chemistry background and process flow engineering would be helpful as well.”

Kettlewell helped develop some of the Kwantlen courses, and said knowledge of the regulatory framework is essential.

“We’re getting inspected by Health Canada for every new licence we get, and then we can have surprise inspections at any time, which we welcome,” he said.

“So there’s a real cultural shift on the production team members to embrace the heavy regulations and the heavy quality assurance that we have to operate by.”

Marijuana becomes legal in Canada on Wednesday.

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