Updated Cannabis Education Program reflects changing industry

Mount Royal’s Cannabis Industry Advisory Board provides real-world input

Mount Royal University's Faculty of Continuing Education is offering newly revised courses in its Cannabis Education Program. The coursework was updated with input from Mount Royal's Cannabis Industry Advisory Board.

The Cannabis Education Program offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education has updated its three online courses with input from the newly established Cannabis Industry Advisory Board. Composed of industry leaders ranging from marketers to government relations experts, the board provides input to ensure the program is relevant to the latest industry developments, says member Joel Darichuk.

“This industry is very young. By providing educational and developmental courses, the program brings structure and helps support stronger and more diverse industry leaders for the future,” says Darichuck, general manager of licensed producer 314 Pure Cannabis Ltd. in Crossfield. “As the industry is still developing, constant upgrading for workers’ education and training is essential. I truly believe that education and structured training is key to build a long lasting, strong industry. Staff taking courses and industry training is standard practice at 314 Pure Cannabis.”

Mount Royal’s new and revised courses — Quality Assurance in the Cannabis Industry, Commercial Cannabis Production and Cannabis Marketing in the Retail Sector — are offered online. This provides students the flexibility to work (sometimes in the industry itself) while building skills and knowledge to further their career. While the updated courses range in subject matter, they all focus on best practices and regulatory compliance, both critical factors in the industry.


"As the industry is still developing, constant upgrading for workers' education and training is essential."

Joel Darichuk


The programming was revised with input from the Cannabis Industry Advisory Board. In addition to Darichuk, board members include:

  • Gabriel Belanger, Gabriel Belanger Consultants
  • Claire Buffone-Blair, co-founder, Insights Matter
  • Steve Clark, COO, 314 Pure Cannabis Ltd.
  • Amber Craig, chief marketing officer, 420 Premium Market    
  • Serena Donovan, CEO, Because You Cann Inc.
  • Erin Gratton, Gratton Consulting
  • David Isaak, president, BOAZ Pharmaceuticals
  • Annaliese Kibler, director, regulatory affairs, Aurora Cannabis
  • Shawn Parchoma, manager, government relations, Aurora Cannabis
  • Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president, Business of Cannabis

Having such a depth and breadth of experience on the advisory board brings programming to a new level, says Dimitra Fotopoulos, director of the Faculty of Continuing Education at Mount Royal. Students can be confident that they’re receiving relevant knowledge that they can apply in the workplace.

“Having input and advice from these experienced industry leaders provides a valuable resource for our students, our instructors and the program as a whole,” Fotopoulos says. “Being able to draw on the board’s real-world experience ensures that our program not only reflects what’s happening in the industry now, but also what students can expect in the future.”

In June 2020 alone, there was a record $200 million in legal adult-use cannabis retail sales in Canada. Darichuk says as the market increases and consumers have access to safe, clean regulated cannabis through legal producers and dispensaries, the off market or illegal suppliers will wither away. The integration of foods, edibles and beverages will bring new growth to the industry as well. He also points to studies on cannabis and mental health treatments and positive physical rehabilitation effects as other avenues for cannabis.

Darichuk entered the industry through his extensive background in the packaging industry. His  skill set and knowledge were sought-after commodities when Colorado legalized cannabis in 2014. Initially, he designed and produced packaging to meet the ever-changing regulations at the time. His experience with 24/7 manufacturing and operations provided a foundation to develop automation, water systems, filters, lighting and innovative production practices in the cannabis market. Because the industry is so young, there is ample opportunity for people to create a new career path for themselves.

“We’re seeing people leveraging their experience to transition into the cannabis industry,” Fotopoulos says. “By adding formalized learning specific to their new career path, students have a strong foundation that they can build on.”

Find out more about Mount Royal’s Cannabis Education Program.

Sept. 23, 2020 — Ruth Myles

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