cannabis college toronto

Toronto now has its first cannabis college

The legalization of recreational cannabis isn't just about smoking weed without fear of fines or imprisonment—it also means we can start studying this healing, leafy plant freely as well. 

As businesses scramble to get their pot shops open to the public, so too are Canadian colleges who are rushing to develop cannabis programs tolooking for jobs in this budding industry. 

According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's recent report, thousands of weed-related jobs are currently operating out of Toronto (and plenty more are coming), but schools are only now beginning to offer programs for weed.

While well-known schools like Ryerson and George Brown have both recently introduced cannabis business courses to their roster of certificates, they weren't the first in the city to do so.

Operating out of a non-descript building on Consumers Road, the  Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) was founded in 2003 as a school focused on the pharmaceuticals, food, and healthcare industries.

It first launched its 16-week marijuana certificate program in September 2017, making it the first in Canada to be approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Development (the same body that oversees schools like U of T). 

According to Jason Chu, AAPS's program manager, the course covers everything from growing techniques to how to start your cannabis business or line of oils.

"With the cannabis industry, it's changing almost day by day, week by week," says Chu. "Luckily the instructors we employ, they're very in touch with the regulations."

According to Chu, more than 40 AAPS have gone to work in the cannabis industry since graduating, including at Ameri, Toronto's second legal pot retailer (for whom AAPS was a consultant). 

Their Cannabis Management, Quality and Laboratory Certificate Program will soon cover edibles as well: by September, AAPS will be offering courses like Edibles Processing, to prepare students for when edibles finally become legal.

The transition to cannabis seems a natural one for pharmaceutical schools: the cannabis industry and the pharmaceutical and food fields have a lot of similarities when it comes to Health Canada safety regulations.

Another pharma college, the North American College of Pharmaceutical Technology (NACPT) on Finch East, describes itself as Canada's first cannabis diploma providor with a 35-week Industrial Cannabis Production Technology course.

While all it takes is a high school diploma to enrol in these schools, Chu says the professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, not just recent grands, want to get in the cannabis industry. 

"We have students who have a lot of experience in other industries: pharma, cosmetics....they see the boom and want to be involved in it right now." 

Lead photo by

APPS via Google Maps

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