NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONT. -- Canada's only Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program is right across the border in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Niagara College.
Its lab is surrounded by an eight-foot barbed wire fence, and you have to go through three locked doors to get in if you have access. 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik got an inside look at what's in the lab, and how students are being trained to become part of a growing industry.
Transcript of the lab tour:
Kelly Dudzik: "I'm here with Bill MacDonald. He's the coordinator of the Cannabis Program here at Niagara College. So, this is where it all happens. We are in the cannabis lab, and this was specifically built for this program."
Bill MacDonald: "Specifically built for this program. Licensed by Health Canada. Security to the nines for our cannabis."
Kelly Dudzik: "All right, show us around."
Bill MacDonald: "Sure. So here we have the benches where we're actually growing the cannabis. And, we have the plants here. We're teaching the students different methods of growing. Here they're growing in what's called rock wool. And, the individual emitters, so each plant gets just the right amount of fertilizer and nutrients. And, then on here, we put on good bugs. So, we put on the good bugs to take care of the bugs that attack it like spider mites, and so all cannabis has to be produced with this. There can be no pesticides go on it, so that's a really big part of it. So, they have to use the biological control."
Kelly Dudzik: "How big were the plants when they got here?"
Bill MacDonald: "About that big. They were tiny little clones that came in, so they've grown a lot. And then, they’re put into here and then put on top of the larger block. And so, then they've grown up, they've done what's called a top, or a pinch to make them grow out farther, and then also strip the bottom leaves, put on the trellis to train them so they don't fall over, and on these yellow cards, so they're coming in and monitoring. Monitoring for pests."
Kelly Dudzik: "How large will these plants get?"
Bill MacDonald: "So, they will likely get up into here by the time we're finished. And so, then we'll harvest, and we have the dryer over here. So, we will actually dry the plants in here, then at the end of it all, they're destroyed. So, that's all part of our Health Canada license. We grow, everything is destroyed. Students do not sample anything that they grow."
Kelly Dudzik: "That's probably a question that you get a lot, what happens with the product when it's ready."
Bill MacDonald: "Right, and it has to be like that, there's a camera there, there's a camera there, you're on camera 24/7."
Kelly Dudzik: "No one's coming in here to sample the goods."
Bill MacDonald: "No, exactly."
Kelly Dudzik: "This is a really well-rounded program because they are learning about the chemistry of the plants, the biology of the plants, and then also the business side of things."
Bill MacDonald: "Yes, the business side for sure. And the big thing is the regulations. Everything has to be done, everything has to be documented. We take a leaf off a plant, we have to document that. Seriously."
Kelly Dudzik: "How similar is this facility to a large commercialized operation?"
Bill MacDonald: "Very similar because that's what we modeled it on. We wanted to model it on a licensed producer. That they're going to a licensed producer they need to know what it's like, so they know they have to get gowned up, they have to tap, put in their PIN, SOPs, all of that so when you get to a licensed producer, it's like oh this is a shock, they've already done it."