Ryerson’s new cannabis courses educating students on growing industry

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By Samreen Maqsood

Two new cannabis courses at Ryerson are equipping students with the knowledge and skills to enter the cannabis industry. 

In fall 2018, the university introduced the first cannabis course, “The Business of Cannabis.”  But this fall, two additional courses have been introduced to students through The Chang School: “Cannabis Law for Business” and “Trends in Cannabis Science.”

Each course offers a different set of skills, methods of teachings and approaches in order to teach students the basic foundation they need to enter the cannabis industry. The courses are set up differently than most accredited courses as these cannabis courses offer a strategic learning process and are a non-credit type. This means they do not count toward any degree. Most students, if not all, take this course out of personal or professional interest. 

“Ryerson has implemented this curriculum responding to the needs of the emerging industry and logical interest of public deprived of balanced information,” said instructor of “Trends in Cannabis Science” Olga Chernoloz, via email. 

The course was designed to help students get an idea of the medicinal side of cannabis, as mentioned on the course website. 

Lessons include the use of cannabis in medical treatments and procedures, the plant structure of cannabis and principles behind cannabis growing. 

“We want to maintain Ryerson’s profile as a leader in entrepreneurial thinking, and at the vanguard of new industries,” said professor Brad Poulos, who teaches the cannabis business course.

“Any important industry should be understood by students leaving university,” he said.

Poulos also said that students who take “The Business of Cannabis” course will learn about the major cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, as well as trends in the medicinal, wellness and recreational applications of cannabis.

In contrast, “Cannabis Law for Business” details the laws and regulations of producing, selling and distributing cannabis, with regards to the Federal Cannabis Act, mentioned on the course website. 

“The course provides a practical review of regulations impacting the cannabis industry in Canada, while also looking at similar issues in the United States and globally,” said instructor Rick Moscone in an emailed statement.

The course also includes lessons on Indigenous matters and intellectual property, he said. 

Students that have taken one or more of the cannabis courses offered at Ryerson said they have been able to expand their knowledge on the industry. 

“As soon as I found out about [the] course,  I was excited. Previously I had taken one-day courses or studied on my own and I wanted an in-depth course,” said Charmalee Knox, an income tax specialist and a University of Waterloo alumni, enrolled in “Cannabis Law for Business.”

“I wanted to ensure that I received accurate information and increase my knowledge of the cannabis industry, the Cannabis Act and Regulations, Ontario law, marketing rules and the role of Health Canada,” said Knox.

Getting the Ryerson community involved

With the interest and population of cannabis increasing every day, Chernoloz said there’s a need to educate young people on the cannabis current affairs and laws.

“Considering cannabis legalization is a 180 on the societal view of cannabis, quality education is needed to reverse the stigma and make the society comfortable with the new reality,” she said. 

She added that evidence-based education about cannabis will help people look beyond myths and develop an understanding of the emerging cannabis industry.

With more and more jobs opening up on the market for this specific career path, many students are becoming interested in getting equipped with the right tools to succeed in the field.

Some Ryerson students recognize the importance of Ryerson introducing cannabis courses whether they are enrolled or not. 

“I think it’s really important for people to be more aware of cannabis” now that it’s legal, said Valentina Grossi, a first-year criminology student. 

“It’s becoming more prevalent in society and now it can be used for business.”

The emerging cannabis industry

According to an article by BNN Bloomberg, the cannabis industry in Canada added $8.26 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in July, an increase from last year’s $7.02 billion when cannabis first became legalized, according to Statistics Canada.  

Statistics Canada also said that since the legalization of cannabis in Canada, the industry has increased by 185 per cent in the first 10 months. 

“This is an emerging industry both in Canada and globally, and Canada is a trailblazer, having been the first G7 country to legalize cannabis at the federal level,” said Moscone. “There will be significant employment opportunities in this industry going forward,” he said.   

“For any student who wants to work for a company in the cannabis industry—or one serving the industry like banking or med labs or security systems—it’s helpful to have a leg up on the competition for the good jobs, and industry knowledge is a good starting point,” said Poulos.  “Understanding an industry is a key to getting employment in that industry,” he said.

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