New Brunswick Launches Canada’s First Cannabis Cultivation Course

(Courtesy of Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick/Facebook)

A community college in New Brunswick will be the first in Canada to offer cannabis production classes to prospective students. The 12-week cannabis cultivation technician program through Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) will start on November 27.

Open to 25 students, the class will focus on entry-level production skills like plant biology, the cannabis life cycle, feeding, cutting, and hydration.

Open to 25 students, the class will focus on entry-level production skills like plant biology, the cannabis life cycle, feeding, cutting, and hydration.

“[The course] will provide the basic understanding to get into the business at a production level and work within a controlled environment,” says Michel Doucet, executive director of contract training and customized learning for the CCNB. “They’ll have a good understanding of the plant and its cycle, and the environmental issues around it.”

While students will have site visits to production facilities, most of the learning will happen in class. New Brunswick-based licensed producer Organigram, one of two LPs in the region, is on board to provide a one-week practicum in its facilities.

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“What makes this unique is that industry is coming to the table and we’re using their techniques and the training results in real jobs,” says Doucet. “The training cycle will continue in the industry but at least this program will provide basic level of understanding, so when you’re hired, you’ve able to hit the ground running.”

The course has been in development since 2015, when the province started attracting licensed producers to set up operations in the region. The New Brunswick government is investing more than $70,000 for the first batch of students to attend the program.

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Doucet says since the course is so new, it will continue to be modified and evaluated. The curriculum was developed with industry officials, after analyzing what holes they’ll need to fill once business is up and running. The college also consulted with Quebec-based Dr. Richard Cote, who specializes in horticultural and biophysics.

The curriculum was developed with industry officials, after analyzing what holes they’ll need to fill once business is up and running.

CCNB will develop the cultivation program as part of their core curriculum, which will be offered exclusively in French. The upcoming 12-week program, which will take place on the college’s Dieppe campus, will be taught in English.

Doucet says the medicinal marijuana industry is expected to bring more than 500 jobs to the region in the next few years. That number will grow if other licensed producers set up shop in the province. While Organigram is in full operation, growers Zenabis only recently became licensed. The college intends to establish a partnership with the facility once it’s in full production.

Students applying for the program must be of legal age to work in the province, have a high school diploma and no criminal record. It’s not unusual for some post-secondary programs, like education or psychology, to require a criminal background check, and Doucet says the stipulation for the cultivation program is in line with Health Canada’s guidelines.

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“To get a job, each student will have to follow the rules and regulations of the industry,” says Doucet. “It’s a regulation issue with Health Canada.”

So far, the college has received over 200 applications for the program from across the country and Europe. Doucet says the course is almost full, and most of the students chosen will be from New Brunswick.

“The growth of the medical marijuana industry has been identified as a priority by the New Brunswick government,” says Doucet. “We’re trying to play our role as a training provider, to support the province in achieving their goals by developing customized training that will put people to work quickly and efficiently. “