DC invites budding cannabis entrepreneurs

Steven Tanner, cannabis program manager at Durham College. Photo credit: Brandon Beharry

Legalization of cannabis in Canada for recreational use has sparked the emergence of a multibillion dollar industry.

Durham College’s School of Continuing Education has created programs that give students and businesses the knowledge they need to get a headstart into cannabis as an industry.

DC is quickly becoming a leader in cannabis education, according to Cannabis program manager Steven Tanner.

“When looking at the curricular for other institutes, the framework seems to all be based off of us,” says Tanner. “It’s fair to say that we at Durham have been a pioneer in this space.”

DC offers everything from business strategies to medical fundamentals for students looking to get into the industry. Currently three programs on cannabis business education are being offered.

“Now they don’t just have legalization, but they now have opportunities to actually get into an industry,” says Tanner.

The course Legalization of Cannabis in Canada is a general education elective open to all post-secondary students.

The seven-week online course is taught through OntarioLearn and introduces students to a range of topics from the ethical and social impacts of legalization to the current state of medical and recreational research. It also looks at how to plan ahead in this new industry.

According to Tanner, this course is also a good choice for students looking to get a quick GNED credit.

Medical Cannabis Fundamentals for Business Professionals is a two-day course launched in 2017. It is Ontario’s first post-secondary cannabis business course and has been successful, with more than 600 graduates since its creation.

The course covers topics such as cannabis medical uses, its production, and the different plants and strains.

“It’s hard to define what a business professional is these days,” says Tanner. “But the whole idea of this course is to prepare students to work for the cannabis industry.”

It also gives students a perspective of what they can expect for jobs and how cannabis is being marketed to the public.

The course is offered both in-class and online and is a lead-in to Durham’s Cannabis Industry Specialization Program.

It is a six-course program that covers a range of subjects from cannabis law and ethics to business operations to it’s recreational use in the adult market. The program gives an in-depth look at the structure of the cannabis industry and what it’s like to work for a licenced producer.

The connections students will make in this program are strong, and according to Tanner, have been valuable for students landing jobs in the business.

“We’ve heard great stories from people that are actually able to use this program as a stepping-stone into the industry,” he says.

Since legalization, some of the negative attitude towards cannabis as a business has faded away but Tanner says it’s still somewhat present.

“When anyone thinks of the cannabis business five years ago or more you can imagine there’s people sitting around office spaces smoking pot or whatever. It is absolutely not like that,” he says. “These are corporate organizations. These are organizations that now float on the stock exchange that are doing very well.”

According to Tanner, there are many people with strong pharmaceutical and food sciences backgrounds that have migrated over to cannabis as their main profession. He cites himself as one of them.

Tanner is interested in expanding programs to include more information on edibles, tourism and the animal health market in the future.

Tanner is a strong believer of DC’s approach to cannabis business education and is proud of its status as a leader in the field. He hopes by offering these programs he can help people see it for the ripe and viable business that it is.