The Community College of New Brunswick has partnered with a Moncton-based marijuana producer to launch Canada’s first medical cannabis cultivation program.
Twenty-five people will be accepted into the first cohort of the 12-week trial program. The students will learn about horticulture and how to meet strict medical marijuana regulations from Health Canada, while getting hands-on experience at Organigram’s Moncton facility.
“We'll provide the training, but Organigram will provide the landscape to continue the training,” says Michel Doucet, CCNB executive director of continuing education.
The New Brunswick government will be paying $70,000 to cover tuition for the first wave of 25 students.
“The responsibility of the provincial government is to make sure we have a qualified labour force, that we have the people that have the right skillsets to fill in the jobs in the private sector that these employers are creating,” says New Brunswick Post-Secondary Education Minister Roger Melanson.
Melanson says Organigram is not obligated to hire graduating students, but as the company looks to double its staff in the coming months, there's certainly a void to fill as growers across country prepare for the federal government’s target legalization date of July 2018.
“We’re going through a major hiring phase right now,” says Organigram CEO Greg Engel. “So we have 110 employees here in Moncton today, over the next eight months we’ll be increasing that number to around 250, so getting qualified, trained, suitable students through this program presents a great opportunity for us.”
“It's not just New Brunswick. We're a national player competing on the national stage.”
The program was first hinted at in 2016. Zenabis, a medical marijuana company in Atholville, N.B., was in talks with CCNB to be part of the program, but Doucet says they’re not prepared yet.
“Zenabis is still in the picture, but for now, they're not nearly where organigram is in their development and Organigram is in dire need right now for qualified people,” Doucet says.
CCNB will be accepting applications for the medical cannabis cultivation program until Nov. 13. The program starts Nov. 27, with the first wave of graduates expected to enter the workforce before marijuana is legalized in July 2018.
The school will not accept anyone with a criminal record.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Cami Kepke