COLUMN: Cannabis education opportunities continue to expand in Canada

By NICHE Canada

April was a good month for cannabis education and public awareness efforts.

Last week, Health Canada announced a $600,000 micro-grant fund to support community-led education efforts to inform the public about the health facts of cannabis use and vaping.

According to the government, the funding must go toward fostering action at the community level to reduce harms associated with cannabis use or vaping.

For examples, activities that could be funded include hosting a community event, developing tailored educational materials, or simply adapting or disseminating existing public education resources, such as the Government of Canada’s Pursue Your Passion toolkit.

Canada’s largest province has taken a big step forward in health education, as the Ontario College of Pharmacists announced it has made cannabis education mandatory due to legalization and in anticipation of legal edibles set to arrive this fall.

The regulatory body has told its members they have until March 27, 2020 to complete an accredited course to help them provide patients with reliable information on how cannabis interacts with their medications.

And, it’s not just public education that got a boost this spring. Post-secondary institutions continue to come onboard to provide the education necessary to train employees for the expansion taking place in communities across our country.

Canada’s cannabis industry is going through unprecedented growth.

And, this progression requires a lot of new workers and expertise. Governments, businesses and organizations that get out in front of the situation and fill the knowledge gap that currently exists will be well-positioned to capitalize on the lucrative opportunities available in Canada’s new cannabis regime.

In April, Seneca College launched Ontario’s first Cannabis Regulation and Quality Assurance program. The one-year program is designed to fill the need for professionals who know the ins and outs of the rules and regulations, and have the expertise to ensure both medical and recreational cannabis meet quality standards.

When it comes to post-secondary education, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Metro Vancouver was first out of the gate, recognizing early on that there was a growing demand for cannabis education and has since positioned itself as a leader in the field.

KPU’s Cannabis Professional Series began about three years ago, and provides a thorough online curriculum. The instructors are currently employed in the Canadian cannabis industry in a variety of fields, including horticulturalists, scientists and marketing specialists.

As the industry and government regulations evolve, so does KPU’s programming. In May, they are offering three online programs: Plant Production & Facility Management, Marketing Under the Cannabis Act and Launching a Cannabis Business in Canada.

Hopefully 2019 will be a record year for cannabis education investment and opportunities. There is a great need to create new skill sets in the industry. And, having our established post-secondary institutions offer new certificates and accredited courses will allow our country’s workforce to receive credible, specialize training to meet the evolving needs of the industry.