Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production program is now licensed to cultivate industrial hemp.

With this new licence approval from Health Canada, the program curriculum can expand to include hands-on learning and academic research opportunities for hemp cultivation. Students will study plant genetics, seeding and germination, flower identification, harvesting and drying hemp.

“This is a natural progression for us,” said Alan Unwin, Niagara College’s Dean of Business, Tourism and Environment. “The crops we’re hoping to grow in the future will provide opportunities for students to participate in all growing sectors. The uses and the industries for the hemp plant and the cannabis plant are quite different so this will help them when they graduate.”

Unwin adds that production of industrial hemp is already under way at the college. This summer, students grew a small field crop in the college’s hop yard. The experience exposed them to growing hemp transplants from seed, germination rates, plant maintenance and hemp flower identification. The latter, in particular, will help those students who go on to work for companies cultivating plants for CBD, which is derived from female plants.