Niagara College approved to study cannabis

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New cannabis research will continue to unravel the plant’s benefits

The commercial cannabis production program at Niagara College continues to grow, and a clear example of this has been the recent acquisition of a license from Health Canada, allowing it to grow industrial hemp. Production is already underway and Niagara College looks forward to making the most of this opportunity.

Students were able to grow a small crop in the college’s hop yard this summer, which was an experience that paved the way for too much knowledge about growing hemp transplants from seed, plant maintenance, germination rate, and hemp flower identification. It is well known that the applications of industrial hemp are practically innumerable, from novel foods to biofuel housing, among other uses.

As time has gone on, the trend of growing industrial hemp as a source of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid derived from female plants, has grown. Now that the program has implemented industrial hemp, students have the opportunity to learn how to grow cannabis in three different environments; greenhouses, outdoors, and a controlled agricultural environment.

“This is a natural progression for us. The crops we’re hoping to grow in the future will provide opportunities for students to participate in all growing sectors,” said Alan Unwin, Niagara College’s Dean of business, tourism, and environment. “The uses and the industries for the hemp plant and the cannabis plant are quite different, so this will help them when they graduate. It’s staying on top of things that we’re seeing in the industry. Our responsibility as a college is to meet that demand for the labor market.”

In 2018, Niagara College launched the Commercial Cannabis Production program, which is considered the first program of its kind in Canada. The first year alone showed tremendous interest, with more than 300 people applying to be part of the program.