Diploma in Commercial Cannabis

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About the program

The Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill’s Macdonald Campus is pleased to launch the Diploma in Commercial Cannabis. The courses taught in the program will cover a wide range of topics, from plant cultivation, and plant pathology, to postharvest management, cannabinoid extraction, product development, regulations, and ethics.

The Diploma in Commercial Cannabis is a 30-credit full-time program with limited enrolment. It includes two academic terms and a 12-week industry internship.

In the first academic term (June-August 2020), students take a sequence of courses in cannabis cultivation, pathology and breeding. They will gain hands-on experience by conducting experiments using the latest advanced microbiology and molecular biology tools in our growth chambers and laboratories and will participate in field trips to licensed cannabis producers to deepen their understanding of the cannabis supply chain.

During the second term (Sept-Dec 2020), students will take a suite of courses on the chemistry of cannabinoids, product development and quality control, as well as the societal and the regulatory framework.

In the last academic term (Jan-April 2021), students will participate in a 12-week industry internship.

Admission requirements

  1. A Bachelor of Science in biological, agricultural, or environmental sciences, including 15 credits in plant-related courses and a course in biochemistry or organic chemistry; and
  2. A minimum CGPA of 3.0

Steps for applying

  • Mandatory Pre-Screening (deadline January 17, 2020)
  • Submission of a formal application to McGill University (deadline and procedure will be outlined in a post screening email indicating permission to apply)
  • Payment of a C$5,000 deposit at the time of acceptance of the offer of admission

Mandatory pre-screening for 2020 Summer Term

All interested individuals must complete the Pre-Screening process. Please email the following documents to the rony.chamoun [at] mcgill.ca (Academic Coordinator) for the program:

  1. Unofficial copies of all transcripts issued by all Colleges and Universities that the applicant has attended. Applicants who are formally invited to apply to the program will be required to submit official transcripts.
  2. Quebec Permanent Code (if the applicant has studied at any level in Quebec).
  3. An updated Curriculum Vitae (if the applicant graduated from an academic program more than five years ago).

Courses

The Diploma in Commercial Cannabis includes eight required courses:

  • three courses that address theoretical and practical aspects of cannabis production, each of which includes a substantive laboratory component and scheduled visits to licensed cannabis industry
  • three courses related to product safety and development
  • one course focussing on the societal and the regulatory framework
  • an internship placement with a licensed cannabis industry

Description of required courses

FDSC 475 Introduction to Cannabis and Cannabinoids (3 credits; 3 hr lecture/wk)
The chemistry, metabolic pathways of synthesis, biological activity, and health benefits of phytochemicals in cannabis plants. Extraction, classification, and analysis of bioactive components in cannabis plants.

FDSC 476 Contaminants in Cannabis (3 credits; 3 hr lecture/wk)
Basic concepts of various contaminants in cannabis. Sources, basic biology/chemistry, classification and testing, method validation and quality assurance procedures to avoid microbial/chemical contamination.

FDSC 477 Introduction to Cannabis Product Design (3 credits; 3 hr lecture/wk)
Fundamental principles needed to develop new products from conceptualization through design, formulation and production, as applied to cannabis products. The technical challenges associated with the formulation of cannabis-based products, as well as the considerations for an optimal formulation.

PLNT 470 Cannabis Issues and Concerns (3 credits; 3 hr/wk lecture, presentation, colloquium)
Local, national and international perspectives on issues and concerns regarding cannabis, with a focus on legal, regulatory, ethical, health and safety aspects relevant to industry, government, academics and consumers.

PLNT 471 Commercial Cannabis Production (4 credits; 10 hr lecture & 10 hr lab / wk for 4 wks)
Botany of the cannabis plant and optimal cultivation strategies. Climate control for production in controlled environment: management of temperature, humidity, light, air quality. Production methods and management of irrigation, fertilization, soil and substrates, pests. Propagation, growth, pruning, pinching, harvest, processing, storage, and quality control.

PLNT 472 Cannabis Genetics and Breeding (4 credits; 10 hr lecture & 10 hr lab / wk for 4 wks)
Cannabis genetic structure and available genomic resources for cannabis research. Introduction to high throughput genomic technologies for the improvement of cannabis cultivars, hybrids, and tissue culture protocols. Origin and taxonomic classification of the cannabis genus. Principles and practices of cannabis breeding, including the importance of quantitative trait locus maps and methods of selection of important genetic traits.

PLNT 473 Control of Cannabis Diseases (4 credits; 10 hr lecture & 10 hr lab / wk for 4 wks)
Diseases and pest management of cannabis grown under greenhouse and field settings. A systemic approach to descriptions of pests and diseases accompanied by an overview of biological, natural and management solutions to pests and cannabis diseases. Details on products and application methods that are in compliance with Health Canada. Practical laboratory sessions to identify various disease symptoms on cannabis plants and to recommend solutions.

PLNT 474 Commercial Cannabis Internship (6 credits; 35 hr/wk for 12 wks in industry plus 14 hr preparatory and follow-up workshops)
A 12-week internship with a licensed cannabis producer. Workshops in advance of the placement will review professionalism expected when working in industry and with controlled substances. The goal of the internship is to give the students the opportunity to acquire valuable experience in a fast-evolving industry.

Internships

Internship Requirements

The cannabis industry requires that students provide a criminal record check dated within 90 days prior to the start of the internship. A criminal record check that is dated more than 90 days prior to the start of the internship is considered invalid.

This requirement aligns with Federal governmental guidelines (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/cannabis-regulations-licensed-producers/security-clearances.html#w). Students who are unable to provide and pass a criminal record check, will not be permitted to register in the internship component of the program, and as such, will not be able to complete the program. For more information on how to obtain a criminal record check, including information on anticipated processing times, please visit the following site: https://www.commissionaires.ca/en/quebec/service/individual/electronic-criminal-record-checks

Internship Placement

Student preference will be considered; however, placement decisions are based on several factors, including:

  1. the results of interviews conducted by the industry representatives
  2. where the student resides, and
  3. the linguistic needs of the industry.

Tuition and expenses

Class entering in Summer 2020

FEES (Canadian $)

CANADIAN CITIZENS &
PERMANENT RESIDENTS

INTERNATIONAL
STUDENTS

TUITION

 

 

Summer Term

$9000.00

$9000.00

Fall Term

$9000.00

$9000.00

Winter Term

$4500.00

$4500.00

Total Annual Tuition

$ 22,500.00

$ 22,500.00

OTHER FEES

 

 

Health & Dental Insurance
(single coverage per year)

$ 262.97

$ 1324.55*

Student Services (per year)

$ 262.91

$ 262.91

Student Society (per year)

$ 121.90

$ 121.90

Ancillary Fees (per year)

$ 908.06

$ 908.06

Total Annual Fees

$ 1,555.84

$2,617.42

Total Annual Tuition and Fees
(CANADIAN DOLLARS)

$ 24,055.84

$ 25,117.42

Please note that the tuition fees listed above have been established for the 2020/2021 academic year. Estimated living and personal expenses are not included.
*Included in this amount is the optional Macdonald Campus Student Society Dental Insurance plan and the compulsory International Health Insurance premium. For more information, see https://mcgill.ca/internationalstudents/health.
†Total annual fees is an estimate and subject to change.

Deposit Required

A deposit will be required when applicants confirm their acceptance of an offer of admission on Minerva. The CAN$5,000 non-refundable deposit will be applied to student tuition fees. McGill reserves the right to withdraw the offer of admission if applicants do not accept their offer by the deadline indicated on the admission letter.

Financial Support

A limited number of scholarships (C$5,000) are available for Quebec residents who enroll in the program. These scholarships will be awarded based on academic merit.

FAQ

What is the deadline to submit documents for Pre-Screening approval?

The official deadline to rony.chamoun [at] mcgill.ca (email) the required documents outlined in the mandatory Pre-Screening process is January 17, 2020. The pre-screening approval does not guarantee an offer of admission. This process is to ensure that only applicants with eligible backgrounds and grade point averages submit a formal application.

How and when will applicants be notified of the result of the Pre-Screening process?

Applicants will be notified of the result of the Pre-Screening by email within two weeks of the Pre-Screening deadline.

What is the deadline for submitting a formal application to McGill?

Successful Pre-Screened applicants will receive an email inviting them to submit a formal application to the program. Applicants will have few days from the date the invitation to apply email is sent to submit a formal application.

What can graduates of the program do after graduating?

Graduates of this program will be able to fill the following roles in the cannabis industry: Cannabis Grower, Quality Control/Quality Assurance Manager, Sustainability Expert, Microbiologist, Pathologist, Inventory and Sourcing Manager and Product Development Specialist.

Job opportunities outside the industry are also available, for example, at Health Canada and the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC).

Will students have access to an Academic Advisor?

All students enrolled in the program will have an Academic Advisor who is also the Academic Coordinator of the program.

Will students have a choice in internship placement?

Student preference will be considered; however, placement decisions are based on several factors, including the results of interviews conducted by the industry representatives, where the student resides, and the linguistic needs of the industry.

Are there any requirements for the internship?

The cannabis industry requires that students provide a criminal record check dated within 90 days prior to the start of the internship. A criminal record check that is dated more than 90 days prior to the start of the internship is considered invalid.

This requirement aligns with Federal governmental guidelines (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/cannabis-regulations-licensed-producers/security-clearances.html#w). Students who are unable to provide or pass a criminal record check, will not be permitted to register in the internship component of the program, and as such, will not be able to complete the program. For more information on how to obtain a criminal record check, including information on anticipated processing times, please visit the following site: https://www.commissionaires.ca/en/quebec/service/individual/electronic-criminal-record-checks

Is it possible to follow the program part-time, or as part of a Continuing Education program?

No, this is a full time program.

Is it possible to work while enrolled in the program?

Working while enrolled in the program is a personal decision; however, attendance in all classes, laboratory sessions, field trips, and the internship is mandatory. Students should expect 9-12 hours per course outside of class time for studies and class assignments.

What will happen if a student is unable to complete the program?

Students who withdraw from courses will be required to withdraw from the program. Students who withdraw from courses or the program after the posted (add/drop) deadlines will not be eligible for a refund.

What is the course schedule?

Summer term courses will be offered weekdays and will involve at least one industry visit. Fall semester courses will be offered on Monday – Thursday during the day and/or in the evening. Internships will follow the hours of work prescribed by the industrial partner.

Will courses be taught in English or French?

All courses are offered in English. The University’s Charter of Students’ Rights stipulates that: “Every student has the right to write essays, examinations and theses in English or in French except in courses where knowledge of a language is one of the objects of the course.”

What is the best way to contact the Academic Coordinator?

The most efficient way to communicate with the Academic Coordinator is through rony.chamoun [at] mcgill.ca (email).


Contact: Dr Rony Chamoun, Academic Coordinator | rony.chamoun [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Cannabis%20Program%20inquiry) (Email)