David Purcell is the Director of Emerging Business for the Cannabis Career Training program in the Continuing and Professional Studies division at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia.

All eyes are on Canada this year as the nation steadily progresses toward establishing its highly anticipated national adult-use marketplace — so we invited David to an interview to talk about his work with KPU and what he has done to help prepare Canada’s workforce for the impending industry. Check out his responses below as we dive into the complex relationship between cannabis educators, cannabis professionals, and cannabis patients and/or enthusiasts.


Ganjapreneur: What can Kwantlen’s Cannabis Education Series do for someone who wants to join the industry? What are the main takeaways?

David Purcell: The Cannabis Career Training series is currently offered through three, eight-week, online courses which are: Plant Production and Facility Management; Marketing, Sales and Drug Development; and Financing a Cannabis Enterprise in Canada. These courses are meant to provide a foundational understanding of the industry through an in-depth look at the cannabis plant, where and how it is grown, and the industry in Canada all taught based on the current and evolving regulatory framework. We are currently developing a Cannabis Cultivation Technician course, which will be a 32-week comprehensive course to teach students how to grow cannabis in a licensed facility, as well as a Retail Training course to meet the needs of the current medical, and future recreational markets.

When was it clear to you that the cannabis industry would need a dedicated educational series?

KPU recognized very early on that there was going to be a need for an educational platform. As medical cannabis use in Canada increased, we recognized the need to provide education to patients, producers and the general public. The industry was relatively new, and there were no accredited, degree-granting universities taking on the challenge of building a cannabis education program at the time. As the industry began to grow, we focused on key industry experts to assist with the expansion of the program to include the coursework that is currently on offer.

Was there ever pushback from your university over the program due to the plant’s legal status?

When we decided to pursue cannabis education, we ensured that we would only work with legitimate, credible resources within the Canadian medical cannabis industry. Given that medical cannabis had been legalized in Canada at this point helped, but it took a bit of effort, and some excellent work from our staff and industry partners to develop a curriculum that proved to offer a great deal of value to both the general public as well as the industry on the whole.

Considering Canada’s plan for nationwide legalization, what do you expect to be the biggest obstacle or issue to overcome as the program comes online?

I think that the industry is going to have a difficult time scaling up to meet the demands of the country. It is generally accepted that the supply of cannabis will not meet the demands of the recreational market once recreational legalization takes place this summer. KPU educators have the same challenges relating to scaling up. We recognize the importance of providing quality education in the cannabis space to Canadians but can’t possibly scale fast enough to do so on our own. To meet this challenge, KPU has, and continues to establish key partnerships with colleges and universities across Canada to develop and deliver cannabis education as a means to ensure that the needs of the industry and future learners are met.

How often does each 8-week series run and can you enroll in all three at the same time, or do they build off of each other?

The demand for the Plant Production and Facility Management Course has been so high that we are running concurrent intakes every four weeks. All other courses run every nine weeks– that’s an eight-week course with a one week break to grade final assignments etc. The courses currently do not ladder into each other, but we are working on a series of courses that will stream together. You can enroll in all three at the same time, but that would be quite the commitment. From a student’s perspective, the time commitment is typically 8-12 hours per week per course.

Who actually compiles the curriculum for each course and how is the information gathered?

We are fortunate to have a number of working relationships with licensed producers across the country. We often collaborate with these partners to determine what their workforce training needs are and build programming to fill those needs.

How have the licensed cannabis companies you’ve approached reacted to the Kwantlen Cannabis Education series?

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. There are a number of success stories of our graduates now working for licensed producers throughout the country. Again, we try to keep an open line of communication with the licensed producers so as to be able to build for their current needs as well as anticipate training needs of the future.

Can you share your favorite or most rewarding experience you’ve had since starting this project?

It isn’t one single event, but rather the continuous breaking down of the stigma that surrounds cannabis. I participate in a number of events outside of the cannabis industry and when I tell people what I do for a living, the responses and reactions are typically formulated out of a complete lack of understanding as to what cannabis is all about. The typical understanding is that the industry is just a bunch of “stoners.” If I can open their minds even a little bit with conversation and some high-level explanation of the industry, the plant, some of the therapeutic benefits etc., I find that to be very rewarding.

Do you plan to eventually offer an in-person cannabis education series, and what would you need to make that happen?

We are in the final stages of writing the curriculum for our Cannabis Cultivation Technician course, which will be a full-year course and will be delivered both online and in-person. The intent of the course is to fill the need for trained cultivators as the Canadian industry expands – at an incredible pace! What makes this particular course so unique is that we have secured an agreement with a local licensed producer to allow our students into their facility to have a hands-on experience and work directly with cannabis. This course will be launched this fall. Beyond that, and in addition to our existing courses, we hope to move towards a more formal academic path with our cannabis curriculum.

Besides signing up for a class, do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about getting involved in the cannabis space as Canada’s adult-use market comes online?

Education and knowledge is key. For those wanting to enter into the cannabis industry, it is critical that you have an understanding of the overarching Federal regulatory framework (C-45); and perhaps more importantly, your Provincial regulations, as well as the local regulations. Here in B.C. for example, the guidelines for private retailers of cannabis were just released and while private retail sale will be legal provincially, individual municipalities can dictate whether or not they will allow retailers in their particular jurisdiction. An important element of a successful venture into the space is to know the regulations.


Thanks, David, for taking the time to answer our questions and share your experiences. To learn more about David and Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Cannabis Career Training, check out KPU’s website or sign up here to receive updates about the program.

Do you own a cannabis industry business? Create a listing in our directory and get discovered by new clients - Click Here
.

Tags: , | Categories: Cannabis Industry Interviews

Learn about cannabis businesses:

View the directory | Get featured here

  • Nutraceutical Facility Solutions, LLC

    Nutra FS is a full-service cannabis facility planning and construction management firm. We create successful plans for various permit applications, including administrative, conditional use, building, health, and fire. Our diverse team will help carry you through to your project realization with services offered for cGMP, feasibility, design/build, workflow efficiency, technical writing for local and state applications. You have a vision. We have a solution.

  • Steep Hill

    Steep Hill is the world's leading cannabis science and technology company with significant footprints in lab testing, research and development, licensing, genetics, and remote testing. No other company brings these sectors into one synergistic whole. With the goal to provide "best practices" in cannabis testing, we provide expert consulting services to legislators and regulators in many countries around the world. Steep Hill: Leading the Science of Cannabis. Globally.

  • Diamond Business Loans

    Diamond Business Loans, is a Direct Lender, Syndicate, and Brokerage. Whether you need to get new equipment, finance your accounts receivable and inventory, raise working capital, or acquire a company, DiamondBL.com can do it all. From StartUps to well-established businesses, we have a financing solution for you. Please contact us today for a free, no obligation analysis of your financing needs.

  • Tax Center & Accounting LLC

    Complete tax and accounting services for your cannabis business. We are a full-service Tax and Accounting firm dedicated to providing the highest quality of service and support to small and medium-sized businesses and individuals.

  • eBottles 420

    The ultimate online resource for packaging supplies: we offer multiple options for every item you would possibly need, from vape cartridges to concentrate jars to child-resistant bottles.

  • California Cannabis CPA

    California Cannabis CPA is the premiere CPA firm that helps individuals and companies working in the Cannabis Industry with all tax planning, compliance, preparation, savings, and peace of mind.

  • PayQwick, Inc.

    PayQwick’s mission is to bring well-established, proven payment processing, regulatory compliance and banking services to the licensed recreational and medical marijuana industries, thereby reducing the risk of violent crime, illegal money laundering and violation of state marijuana regulations. PayQwick serves state licensed Producers, Processors, Wholesalers, Distributors, Dispensaries and Retailers.

  • CORE Security Solutions

    CORE Security Solutions, Inc. provides security services to a wide array of clients, including the rapidly growing cannabis industry. We are fully licensed and insured by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). We currently provide security services to several local cannabis dispensaries in the Bay Area and secure transport and delivery services for cannabis products and proceeds throughout California. Our security specialists are all licensed and our transport vehicles are equipped with secure storage and GPS tracking.

  • Dispensary Permits

    DispensaryPermits.com offers “seed to sale” consulting services with hands on support to medical marijuana entrepreneurs. Whether you are looking to break into the industry or you have previous experience with owning or operating a dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing or testing facility; our custom crafted solutions provide support and guidance for both novice and expert medical marijuana entrepreneurs.

  • Craft Cannabis Marketing

    We offer two decades of experience providing advertising, branding, and web design solutions to the most recognizable brands from around the globe. Simply put, we decided to take the expertise we gleaned working with big-name companies you know and love and bring it to the emerging cannabis industry. We’re more than a mere agency – we’re cannabis advocates.

  • HempStaff

    HempStaff is an industry leader in Marijuana Industry Recruiting and Dispensary Training. We strive to find the perfect match for Employers and Employees in the Cannabis Industry. From Dispensary Managers and Master Growers to Cannabis Chefs and Trimmers, we find the right match for both our clients and candidates. We are currently working with marijuana business owners across America to help them locate qualified employees as well as providing Dispensary Training for the entry level employee in states with new markets.

  • LC Solutions Michigan PLLC

    LC Solutions offers clients timely accrual based bookkeeping, cost accounting strategies, planning, and consulting services. Our model supports an ongoing client relationship, helping to ensure accurate accounting records throughout the year. We are professional, patient, and creative in our approach. LC Solutions specializes 100% in serving Michigan’s Medical Cannabis industry.

Want a job in the cannabis industry?

Sign up to apply for unlimited jobs and get discovered by companies who are hiring

Post Your Resume View all jobs

Recent Job Postings

Subscribe for daily cannabis news, announcements, and business insights.

Stay informed about the latest cannabis industry news, policy progress, and business developments.