Ontario’s Niagara College is launching a one-year post-graduate program in commercial cannabis production – the first of its kind in Canada.

The program is accepting 25 students for its “class of 2019”, who must have earned a diploma or degree in horticulture, agricultural sciences or related fields.

Al Unwin, associate dean of environmental and horticultural studies, says sudents will learn about plant pathology and how to grow a healthy cannabis crop with courses focusing on the regulations, standards and legal requirements for licensed producers.

Consultations with licensed producers illustrated a burgeoning demand for trained workers in the Canadian cannabis industry, says Unwin.

“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.

The program, which was approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development over the summer, will include experience working with commercial producers - of which there are 59 in Canada. As of now, the curriculum is based on current legislation limiting commercial production to medical marijuana, hemp fiber and hemp seed.

“We’ll certainly be consulting with licensed producers” as legislations change, said Unwin.

The Canadian government will legalize recreational cannabis nationwide next July, though regulations concerning sale and distribution are being left to the provinces. Earlier this month, the Ontario government announced it would restrict cannabis sales to 150 LCBO-run stores by 2020.

Niagara College’s program may be the first of its kind, but Niagara College is not the first institution to offer cannabis-themed courses. Last year, a French-language college in New Brunswick unveiled a cannabis technician program, while several other organizations offer online courses.

h/t Toronto Star