Niagara-on-the-Lake college gets top award for its pot program


Published December 10, 2021 at 11:44 am

Bill MacDonald took to the stage to accept the award at the Grow Up Conference and Expo, held in Niagara Falls. Photo: Niagara College

To the average college kids growing pot, the biggest reward would probably be not getting caught.

However, at Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production (CCP) program, they stand tall and talk proudly about what they’re doing.

And it paid off with a top award at the recent Grow Up Conference and Expo in Niagara Falls. The program won the Cultivation Education Award.

Just in its third year, the one-year program is turning heads as it trains students to grow cannabis according to Health Canada’s strict and complex regulatory framework.

At the Grow Up Conference and Expo, Bill MacDonald, the CCP program coordinator had high praise for his squad as he accepted the award in front of a large audience.

“This award is for the whole team – professors, technologists, technicians, and administration at Niagara College – that supported the development of this program right from the beginning,” MacDonald told the audience at the Scotiabank Convention Centre.

Since opening the doors to their ‘Cannabunker’ in 2018 – the secure lab and growing facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake – 143 graduates have completed the program and subsequently enter the cannabis industry with the hands-on skills and knowledge to work at Licensed Producers in a variety of roles in growing, operations, quality assurance, and more.

The college’s CCP program beat out seven others for the award, including the University of Guelph, private career colleges, expert growers, and industry leaders.

Al Unwin, Niagara College’s Dean of Business, Tourism and Environment, had high praise for the Pot Squad, noting, “It is exceptional to see Bill and the entire Commercial Cannabis Production team recognized for their passion for cannabis education.”

“This program was born out of a desire to help meet the demands of the evolving cannabis industry, and a natural extension of the expertise of our faculty and researchers who take great pride in training the next generation of growers.”

The Grow Up convention, which like the college’s CCP also started in 2018, is a great place to make contact in the industry, MacDonald suggested.

“CCP students have volunteered at GrowUp since it started in 2018. It gives them an excellent opportunity to network with the industry,” said MacDonald. “Many students in the past have found job connections at this conference.”

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