A New Brunswick community college is developing a new program to train students to work in cannabis cultivation.

Michel Doucet from the francophone Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick said that he hopes the program will be offered by fall of 2017 to supply qualified staff for the new industry.

“We’re really targeting entry level positions in terms of supporting growers’ needs to have access to trained employees in the area of medical marijuana,” Doucet said. “We’re really at the start of what we feel is an important industry and it’s no different than any other industry. Industry requires that we need to have access to qualified skilled employees.”

The school is working with Health Canada licensed medical cannabis producer Organigram and Atholville-based license applicant Zenabis.

The New Brunswick government has invested heavily in cannabis as a growth industry for the province, giving $4 million to Zenabis while it is still in the pre-license inspection phase, along with up to $990,000 to Moncton’s  OrganiGram. In September, Zenabis received a further $3 million from the Listuguj First Nation Government.

“We’re very optimistic. We know there’s a need for qualified workers … but what we have to keep in mind here is that this training program that we’re building … is done so in accordance with some very specific rules and regulations,” Doucet said.

This isn’t the first cannabis related program to be offered at a Canadian post-secondary institution, B.C.’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University has provided a 16-week online program since 2015. The school’s Introduction to Access to Marijuana for Medical Purposes in Canada offers courses like “Plant Production & Facility Management” and “Financing a Cannabis Enterprise in Canada.”

Doucet said the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick course is more focused than that being offered at other institutions.

“The quality control aspects, the harvesting, the care of the plant and all that is very industry–specific as it’s done in very confined and very regulated environments,” Doucet said.