Durham College offers class on cannabis business as legalization looms – Toronto

An Ontario college is offering a new class in response to the growing demand for skilled professionals to support Canada’s expanding medical marijuana industry as legalization looms.

And it’s not exactly reading, writing and arithmetic.

The two-day class, offered this weekend by Durham College in Oshawa, Ont., is said to be the first-of-its kind offered by an Ontario college. And it’s designed specifically for those with a business background interested in pursuing a career in the medical cannabis field. 

Medical Cannabis Fundamentals for Business Professionals examines regulatory and legal considerations; ethics; cultivation and quality control; basic clinical concepts and marketing, among other topics. 

Sarah Medel is a registered nurse and says there’s a lack of information for patients about how the industry works.

‘Why not discuss it?’

“Patients are looking for information from reputable sources for medical cannabis treatments. They want to know how to gain access, sit down with health care providers and integrate it into treatment plans,” she said. 

People in other fields are curious, too, such as financial planner Timothy Kellar.

He expects he might have to give advice to clients looking to invest in cannabis companies, and already has one who’s interested.

Amber Johnson

Amber Johnson is a professor and instructional designer at Durham College. She recognizes the course may be a surprise to some but says it’s simply a response to the realities of a growing industry. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

“I may have other clients who would probably ask, ‘Will this be of help for me versus the drugs?’ It’s an alternative, so why not discuss it?”

With legalization around the corner, medical cannabis already makes up a $130-million industry, says Debbie Johnston, dean of Durham College’s School of Continuing Education. An it’s expected to grow nine-fold over the next two years, she says.

‘A new frontier’

A report published by consultancy firm Deloitte in October estimates that legalizing recreational use of the drug could ignite a $22.6 billion industry in Canada. That figure includes sales of marijuana products as well as ancillaries such as security, transportation and testing labs.

Amber Johnson is a professor at the college. She recognizes the course may be a surprise to some, but says it’s simply in response to realities of a growing industry. 

“It’s a new frontier. The rush is happening whether we like it or not,” she says. “We can choose to support either stream and get involved that way.”

Katherine Thomas, a community and physician liaison with GrowWise Health, agrees. The company provides education to patients and health-care professionals to make what it calls informed decisions about cannabis treatments.

“There’s a lot to learn in this industry. It’s important to keep us ahead of the patient so we can give the best education to them.”

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