'Uncharted waters'

Dec 20th, 2021

Susan White

'Uncharted waters'

Students at Memorial University have a unique opportunity to study an emerging industry next semester.

The Faculty of Business Administration has created a Business of Cannabis (BUSI 6055) course to be offered for the first time this winter.

Instructor Marc Kielley says Memorial has a role to play in contributing to the success of the burgeoning cannabis industry.

"The legal cannabis industry is a new frontier,” he said. “On a societal level, I think Memorial can offer a valuable forum for cannabis research, education, communication and for the assessment of public policy on the social and economic aspects of the cannabis industry.

“The role of the university is even more important considering we are in unchartered waters since legalization, and can play an important role in providing new knowledge to guide us into the future.”

Canada became only the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes in 2018.

Mr. Kielley says this young industry will require not only growers and cultivators but also qualified professionals who can provide expertise in finance, human resources, sales, marketing, management, horticultural science, biology, analytical chemistry, engineering and more.

“It’s important to know that every job created in the cannabis industry is a new job that didn’t exist prior to legalization,” he said. “Every company, regardless of size, will need to employ highly competent personnel to remain competitive.”

Students in the course will examine six case studies involving well-known cannabis companies to broaden their understanding of topics related to business strategy, ethics, compliance and corporate social responsibility. Mr. Kielley says students will gain knowledge and insight into the cannabis industry that can be transferred to other industries as well.

The “highly regulated and complex” cannabis industry also presents many opportunities related to research and government policy, Mr. Kielley says, adding Memorial can provide support by facilitating research partnerships and making expertise and facilities available to industry.

"Because cannabis was a prohibited substance, we still don’t have good scientific data on the benefits and risks of cannabis. From a research perspective, the university is an ideal place where cannabis entrepreneurs and faculty can collaborate.”

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean, says business schools must continually adapt to new business trends, technologies and industries.

“We have an obligation to educate the next generation of business leaders so that they are ready to meet the challenges of the current business climate as well as adapt to changes that will come in the future,” she said. “By continually challenging our own processes and assumptions, we’re enabling our students to do so as well, and we believe this is an important factor in ensuring the success of organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The Business of Cannabis is expected to be offered every winter semester.