Cannabis College Program at Niagara College

I have always believed that education should be a direct reflection of society and its development, rather than be based solely off of what we already know. While history is important for individuals to learn, education should always be looking to the future as to foster innovation. As countries begin to change their personal and legal interpretations of cannabis use, the education systems provided should also begin to grow. Of course, our Canadian neighbors are leading the way since their decision to nationally legalize cannabis, as the first cannabis college program was opened not to long after.

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Photo of Frank Campion, Mayor of Welland, and Dan Patterson, Niagra College President, holding up new street signs for the campus.

Niagra College Canada became the first post-secondary certificate program in the production of commercial cannabis when it opened in November 2018. Still in it’s beginnin gphases, the program only accepts 24 students, 3 times a year. Bill MacDonald, the Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, understood the importance of creating a real curriculum focused around the production of cannabis. MacDonald was a coordinator the greenhouse technician program at Niagra College originally, until he began consulting in the cannabis industry. With his new knowledge of the rapidly growing industry, MacDonald knew that the trends in cannabis would transform the greenhouse industry in total.

” {We] saw how much it was transforming the greenhouse industry and approached the college and said, hey, we need to do a program because this is transforming the whole greenhouse industry, growing industry, and a lot of licensed producers were coming to me saying, ‘ we need qualified growers. We don’t have enough experienced talented people,” – Bill MacDonald, Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, 2018

MacDonald makes an amazing point. As industries emerge, education ALWAYS follows. Take for example the technology industry. At one point in time, there was no fundamental curriculum for educating the youth about how to use technology, let alone develop it. Now, these types of programs are even offered at the grade school level. Not to say that Commercial Cannabis Production Programs will be offered to minors, however, I do believe that for those who are generally interested there should be a tangible education for them to attain.

Once college leadership was on board, MacDonald was able to build the program from scratch. There is no program for the school to follow being the first of its kind, therefore it is still in its developmental stages. To even be considered for the graduate program, a student must have a degree in a related field such as Agricultural of Plant Sciences.

What is funny about the article posted on 2 On Your Side is the reactions that many of the students family members had once hearing about the program. Opposed to before, in the current climate, cannabis production must be looked at as a profession, not just a hobby. Two of the first Canadians accepted into the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College detail how their loved ones have grown to understand that what they are studying is a viable profession.

“Older people are like wow congratulations, it’s a growing industry. Then the younger people, you know, give me props and they’re like nice, you’re growing weed in school,” – Carson Otto, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

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Photo of a cannabis lab at the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College

There is no doubt that as legalization sweeps through the United States, colleges and universities will begin to follow the lead of Niagara College. To build a successful industry, individuals need to be educated, and Niagara College is on the forefront of developing the next trends in the Cannabis Cultivation space.

“Like even my grandma’s going around telling people, hey, my grandson, he’s growing pot at school. So, it’s pretty awesome to see that and get that reaction from people,” – Denzil Rose, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

Article: Exploring Canada’s First Cannabis College Program

The Merging of the Alcohol and Cannabis Industries

With regulations on cannabis beginning to loosen at a rapid rates in the world, and the United States alike, it is apparent that everyone will be trying to get a piece of the pie. Although an individual would think that companies involved in alcohol production would be opposed to the increase of support for cannabis related products, we have found that many of them have already begun to capitalize on the trend. While many alcoholic beverage companies have begun to explore the possibilities of marijuana-infused beverages as well, other companies have taken their investments even further. Constellation Brands $4 Billion investment into Canopy Growth Corporation serves as a monumental indication of what is to come between these two spaces, and how they will coexist in a leveled playing field.

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Official logo for Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED and NYSE: CGC. As of November 19th, 2018, the company’s stock sells for nearly $33 a share.

Prior to the era of legalization, alcohol companies had little to worry about when it came to marijuana. They naturally owned the competitive advantage over cannabis related companies due to one fact:

Alcohol has been legal in the majority of the world for years. Cannabis is just now recently nationally legal in a few countries; yet that wont last long. 

The alcohol industry enjoyed this exclusivity over cannabis, yet now it does not own the same luxury. Though alcohol has proven to temporarily impair individuals and also cause long-term health effects when consumed improperly, it has enjoyed nationwide legalization regardless. By being a legal entity, it has reaped the benefits of a much more relaxed perception and connotation, even though it’s record of destruction has been recorded along the way. In today’s age, however, cannabis is now creeping into the same space. Companies such as Constellation Brands have already made the conscious decision that rather than try to delay what is inevitable, they will invest in the development of the cannabis industry.

For background information, Constellation Brands is one of the leading international producers and marketers of beer, wine, and spirits. Ranked as the number 3 beer company in the United States, Constellation is the host brand for many iconic beers including Corona, Corona Light, Modelo Especial and Pacifico. Under its premium spirits brands, the company supports SVEDKA Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila, and High West Whiskey. On the other hand, Growth Corporation was one of the early distributors in the Canadian and international marijuana market, which has in turn allowed it to become the largest player in the game. The company is not solely interested in providing consistent access to high quality cannabis products, but is just as invested in educating healthcare professionals and conducting clinical research about cannabis.

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Image depicting the iconic beer brands under host company, Constellation Brands.

Constellation Brands investment gives them a 38% share in Canopy Growth Corp., while also giving them further warrants that could take the stake to over 50% in the near future. The investment will help Canopy solidify its position as an industry leader and gives them the funds to build or acquire new assets. While more than 30 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Germany, and South Africa, begin to purse medical cannabis programs, the $4 billion investment will help Canopy to serve those markets. According to Forbes, the money will also help for the company to be more invested in the cannabis edible space. Forbes states that,

“For example, in Colorado, the share of edibles and concentrates went up from 11% and 13% at the beginning of 2014 to 15% and 29% by the end of 2017. Furthermore, in California and Oregon, their combined share exceeds 35%.” – Trefis Team, Great Speculations, 2018

The leading alcohol brand was determined to find a new influx of revenue, as it’s own industry has been suffering. According to Forbes, in US States where medical marijuana has been legalized, there has been a 15% drop in monthly alcohol sales. This figure can prove to be detrimental to the industry at large, but to Constellation in particular. It has already experienced falling revenues in the wine and spirits segments, and predicts a decline in the beer market and the US as well.

This trend will continue to grow as regulation continues to spread across the United States. What company do you think will follow next? Comment and let us know!

Article: What Constellation Brands’ Massive Investment In Canopy Growth Corp. Means For Both Companies

O Canada: The second nation to legalize marijuana

Although Canada neighbors the United States, it is unfair to assume that the country and its constituents share our same values. While 30 states in America have legalized medical marijuana, only 9 of those states (including the District of Columbia) have legalized recreational marijuana. On the opposite side of the border, our Canadian neighbors have adopted a policy that legalizes the use of marijuana everywhere, not by provinces and territories. In June of 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use, behind Uruguay who did so in 2013.

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Current map of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and 9 have legalized recreational marijuana.

The Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45, comes from a campaign pledge from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to keep marijuana away from underage users and to reduce the related crime. The Cannabis Act was first introduced on April 13th, 2017 and was passed in the House of Commons in November of the same year. Bani Sapra, a writer for CNN, notes that,

“Although the Canadian government had initially stated its intent to implement by July 2018, provinces and territories, who will be responsible for drafting their own rules for marijuana sales, have advised that they would need eight to 12 weeks after the Senate approval to transition to the new framework.” – Bani Sapra, CNN, 2018

While Donald Trump utilizes Twitter to provoke response or simply to tile up his constituents, it is clear that the prime minister of Canada uses Social Media in a much more positive manner. On July 19th, after the bill’s passing, the prime minister took to Twitter to share his appreciation for the bill and his optimism that it will be the answer that they have been looking for all along.

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Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, tweets his support for the Cannabis Act, also known as C-45

The justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was also in support of the bill, even stating that it is a, “… historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada”. Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould are consistent in their belief that the bill will help to protect the youth from cannabis risk, while keeping profit out of the reign of one-off criminals and factions of organized crime. Though the country has chosen to legalize marijuana use nationally, there are still rules and regulations on how to do so within the confines of the law. Bani Sapra provides a great list in her article on CNN for those that are interested in consuming marijuana in a legal fashion:

  • Adults can carry AND share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public.

  • Adults are allowed to cultivate up to FOUR plants in their household and make products such as edibles for personal use.

  • Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from retailers regulated by provinces, territories, or federally licensed products.

  • Marijuana WILL NOT be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco.

  • Canadian government has also implemented changes to the countries impaired driving laws, to create repercussions for operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis.

The Cannabis Act set the floor for the minimum age of a consumer to be 18 years old, opposed to the 21 years that the United States uses for both alcohol and cannabis consumption. The production, distribution, or sale of cannabis as a minor will be constituted as an offense. Provinces and territories are free to increase the minimum age of consumption, however, the Canadian government has made it clear that 18 is the desired age that will make C-45 an effective law. Related image

Although the Canadian government has been consistent in voicing it’s praise for the bill in order to decrease cannabis related crime, I am sure that that is not the only desired result. By legalizing marijuana nationwide, I am positive that the Canadian government is aware that they are officially entering a financially rewarding industry. The Cannabis Act, or C-45, is expected to spark a billion-dollar industry in Canada. Sapra notes that total spending on marijuana can surge up to 58%, particularly because consumers will be willing to pay a premium for legal access to the component.

On our side of the border in the United States, it is clear that the marijuana industry is growing, even without nationwide legalization. Sapra states that,

“In the United States, BDS Analytics estimated that the pot industry took in nearly $9 billion in sales in 2017. The revenue from the sales is equivalent to the entire snack bar industry.” – Bani Sapra, CNN, 2018

Our Canadian neighbors have taken advantage of the growing industry early, and many Canadian companies have begun to become the center of United States investment. Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria Inc., and Aurora Cannabis Inc., have begun to lead the early charge in mass production and distribution. Though the United States and Canada differ, one thing is clear: Canada has figured out an effective bill that decriminalizes marijuana, while protecting the youth from cannabis use at too early of an age. Possibly the United States will take a page out of their book, yet it seems that there is a much more uphill battle for legal marijuana here in the United States.

Please comment your suggestions, ideas, or viewpoints on the current state of legal marijuana adoption in America. Why do you think it hasn’t happened?

Article: Canada Becomes Second Nation in the World to Legalize Marijuana

 

Artist Feature: Wiz Khalifa’s Success in the Cannabis Industry

As a longstanding fan of Hip-Hop, whether it be from today’s day in age or the generations of the past, I enjoy when I get a chance to see the artists that I follow develop themselves off of the beat as well. As an inspiring young businessman, I tend to respect artists that have their hands in multiple pots and understand the value of having multiple streams of income. Though they make millions through album sales, touring, promotions, and appearances, the most financially responsible artists know that they can use their capital to invest in other streams of income. While everyone knows about legends Hip-Hop such as Jay Z and P. Diddy creating their respective business empires, there are a few artists careers that I have been following that should also be put on notice. Since this blog is focused upon the ever growing industry of cannabis, our feature for today will be an artist who has made a successful career out of his marijuana based verses and lifestyle:

Wiz Khalifa

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Since releasing his first mixtape in 2006, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, Wiz Khalifa has established himself as one of the more prominent artists in the game. The Pittsburgh rapper, heavily influenced by marijuana consumption, has named the majority of his mixtapes or albums based off of cannabis. Titles include Kush and Orange Juice, Rolling Papers I and II, Burn After Rolling, 28 Grams, Bong Rips, and many more.  Of course, there are many artists who are also avid supporters of recreational cannabis use, there are few that have actually turned their passion into tangible dollars. Wiz Khalifa is one of them.

Along with his music, Wiz Khalifa has extended his empire to the digital marketplace and cannabis retail front. On April 20th, 2017, Wiz Khalifa launched his own mobile video game called Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm. The Pittsburgh native worked in tandem with Metamoki, a boutique gaming studio that specializes in making apps on the free-to-play market. The app gives users a virtual glimpse into the future of the cannabis industry. Gamers have the opportunity to grow, harvest, and reinvest their money into the marketplace. Throughout the course of the game, users will receive updates that will allow them to expand their business across the US as cannabis is legalized in the virtual world. In an article posted by Forbes in November of 2017, just 6 months after the release of the game, Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm had already gotten 4 million downloads.

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Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm is currently ranked the #66 Strategy Game and has a 4.8 Star Rating on the app store

 

In the year prior to the release of his gaming app, Wiz Khalifa had already begun selling his own line of marijuana products. Early in 2016, Khalifa announced his partnership with Colorado-based RiverRock Cannabis to sell his own strain, Khalifa Kush. In addition to Khalifa Kush, or KK, Wiz Khalifa and RiverRock have already begun to sell many infused products and concentrates. Khalifa Kush released on April 20th of 2016, and of course, it is not a simple coincidence. According to Forbes, Khalifa brought in an excess of $28 million in 2017 due to Khalifa Kush and the Weed Farm mobile app.

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The rapper has never been shy about his love for marijuana, and has even expanded his business onto the Big Screen. In 2012, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa appeared in the film Mac and Devin Go To High School. Directed by Dylan Brown, the film is a story about two high school students, Mac and Devin form an unlikely bond. The geeky Wiz Khalifa, or “Dev” as called in the movie, befriends Snoop Dogg, or “Mac”, who then introduces him to cannabis. The movie has been considered one of the more successful comedies that revolves around cannabis use.

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Advertisement for Mac & Devin Go To High School Starring Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa

The moral of Wiz Khalifa’s story, is that there is always a way to monetize your passions. Prior to his music career, I am sure that he never thought he would own his own strain. After working his way to becoming a national artist, he continued to let his passions drive his business as well. The consumption of cannabis might be his, but to those reading, I hope you all can find a way to make money off of what you love!