McGill University, one of Canada's most prominent and exclusive public research schools, plans to offer a diploma on cannabis and cannabis production.
Although other schools in Canada offer courses in cannabis cultivation and business, they’re shorter with fewer prerequisites. This course will be a one-year program and won’t be open to everyone. Those applying must already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field like a plant science.
Marijuana Education Could Go Mainstream, Thanks to McGill
With the federal government moving forward on recreational marijuana legalization, colleges and universities are seeing tremendous potential in offering students the kind of certified training that is, so far, scarce.
This announcement by McGill is equal in impact to two moves that happened at the beginning of the year:
- The Bank of Montreal buying $175 million worth of shares in the largest Canadian licensed producer (LP), Canopy Growth Corp.
- Sun Life Financial Inc. including medical marijuana in group health insurance coverage.
Why Choose McGill University for Marijuana Wisdom?
Besides being one of the most prestigious schools in Canada, McGll also has the perfect place to house a cannabis course. The university’s faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences is robust and internationally recognized. It features lots of hands-on training and world-class research dealing with agriculture, the environment and food. The advancement and study of a new agricultural sector and probable Canadian cash crop has no better home than McGill.
Anja Geitmann, dean of the faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences, told CBC News that it's a unique time in agriculture with an entirely new sector created from scratch. Though cannabis agriculture has been evolving for quite a while now, it’s been developing against all odds underground.
But now legal marijuana production is ready to enter the spotlight. And when McGill embraces something, it's time to truly pay attention, because it’s about to go mainstream.
A Need for Skilled, Certified Cannabis Workers
Much of the Canadian cannabis industry workforce came from the black market to either make their business legal through licensing or start a career at an LP. But more and more jobs need to be filled as the industry grows. Geitmann expects that tens of thousands of new cannabis jobs will be created in the next few years.
Now, companies are looking for new hires who have more than black-market experience. And that's where schools like McGill are stepping in to offer what the market wants: specific skills that satisfy a growing cannabis industry.
As marijuana producers know well, it's difficult to grow this big, water- and sun-hungry plant indoors, which is the only legal way to grow it in Canada. Knowing about the growth and maintenance of the plant is crucial for productivity and staying competitive. But today's Canadian cannabis worker must also understand and comply with the strict regulations laid out by the cannabis authorities in the Great White North.
Someone with a background in agriculture, greenhouses and the cannabis plant may know quite a bit about a large-scale marijuana grow-op. But taking the cannabis course at McGill means they could become a desirable, well-rounded, highly qualified addition to the legal marijuana sector.
Alison McMahon of Cannabis at Work, a marijuana industry recruiter and resource for those hoping to break into the industry, says that now’s the time to take advantage of the certificate courses. She advises people to consider this option to get the edge on other job seekers who have a background in a similar industry, but not the specific hands-on experience that a cannabis school offers.
Who's Hiring in the Canadian Cannabis Industry Right Now
Agriculture isn't the only segment of the cannabis industry looking for skilled, educated talent.
An unofficial survey of companies represented at this past weekend's cannabis Lift Expo in Toronto showed 30 companies who were actively searching for skilled workers—using either online sources or recruiters—to fill various positions.
Of the total positions available across the companies at the expo that are actively hiring:
- 91 openings are in office and administration, including a few C-suite positions at LPs.
- 71 jobs are available in facilities that either grow or process cannabis.
- 17 posts are available in social media or tech.
- 8 positions are available in medical marijuana clinics.
And the jobs postings don't end with cannabis growing and sales. If those types of jobs aren’t for you, but you’re still interested in working in cannabis, there are lots of ancillary services—like branding, marketing and even retail space design—in the cannabis space.
McGill's faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences is in the process of formalizing the cannabis diploma, and the course will likely start at the beginning of 2019. So if you’re interested, keep an eye on the McGill website for updated schedules, prerequisites and all of the information you need to take advantage of this prestigious university’s interest in the cannabis industry.
Photo credit: Mark