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Canada struggles with promotion of cannabis courses

With cannabis having been legalised in Canada in 2018 and the sector predicted to be worth $5 billion by 2021, the popularity of cannabis-related courses is spreading across Canadian universities and colleges. However, some institutions are struggling with how to accommodate international students into a ‘controversial’ market.

CannabisThe legalisation of cannabis has led to new opportunities for colleges, as well as new challenges. Photo: Pixabay

"At the moment we do not accept international students"

While stakeholders say they can see such courses going down fine with students from more liberal countries, the fact remains that their major markets for international students are countries like India, China and Nigeria.

“There are a bunch of new programs and courses that are being offered in a variety of different kind of roles,” a staff member working in international marketing at a Canadian college told The PIE News. “Lots of colleges are jumping on the bandwagon.”

“I’d be inclined to leave it out of our… materials in regions like China”

“I think at this point I’d be inclined to leave it out of our marketing and promotional materials in regions like China. We need to do a lot more research before we take a possible risk like that,” the advisor added.

In the US – where there is a total of four cannabis-related bachelor’s degrees on offer nationally – Minot State University in North Dakota said its courses are open to international students, but none have currently enrolled in the program.

“The lack of international students likely can be attributed to marketing – or a lack thereof – with respect to international markets,” Chris Heth, assistant professor of chemistry at Minot State, told The PIE

“Our program is an option within our bachelor’s in chemistry program, so students are earning a bona fide chemistry degree. I might question the utility of such a degree to a student who wanted to return to a home where cannabis is illegal but there would be no compelling reason they couldn’t do it.”

Durham College, whose cannabis-focused courses fall under their school of continuing education, told The PIE that 80 international students have enrolled in such courses to complement their full-time program of study, suggesting the demand for such programs is there.

However, not all courses in Canada are open to international students.

“At the moment we do not accept international students as we are one of the very few educational institutions that actually have the students grow cannabis,” Bill MacDonald, professor and coordinator of the commercial cannabis production program at Niagara College, told The PIE.

“With the students working directly with cannabis they are required to have a Canadian police background check and as such this precludes international students.”

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