Looking to grow weed? A CT college program can teach you how – Danbury News Times

Christopher J. Tuccio has seen students graduate from his horticulture program and pursue careers at medical marijuana dispensaries in Connecticut or recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts.

Now, students at Naugatuck Valley Community College may take a course that will teach them how to grow marijuana plants.

The college joins a number of higher education institutions in the state, including UConn, offering cannabis-related courses.

“We were kind of offering plant-growing skills and they have to adapt on the job,” said Tuccio, program coordinator of horticulture and a professor of horticulture in the community college’s STEM division. “Now, it’s really useful. We can specially train them for the jobs that are out there, which is quite a lot right now.”

Called Horticulture of Cannabis, the course is the same as the one offered at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, which began offering a cannabis studies program last year.

“Really the course teaches everything from soil nutrition, plant nutrition, pest identification, and then all the way up through cultivation of the cannabis plant itself and then harvesting,” Tuccio said. “It’s kind of an A to Z approach.”

A few licensed growing operations approached the horticulture program about a partnership in 2013, after the state approved medical marijuana, Tucci said. But the college held off because the stigma against pot was greater, he said.

Since then, UConn and Quinebaug offered courses related to marijuana and the state legalized recreational use. Retail sales are expected to begin late next year.

Other cannabis courses

UConn launched the country’s first university class on the fundamentals of cannabis horticulture in 2019, and this summer began offering online courses for the public in basic and advanced cannabis growing. UConn said it wanted the larger public to have access to the industry’s financial opportunities.

Gerald “Gerry” Berkowitz, professor of plant science in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, helped develop the university’s courses and partnerships in the industry.

“Our students see career potential and want to gain experience,” he told UConn in the spring when the courses were announced. “Businesses need highly trained scientists to support the growth of this industry, and they are seeking talented graduates to enter their workforce. By offering more and more targeted courses, we can help both groups. It’s a win-win.”

Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic will begin offering a hemp cultivation minor in the fall and could expand the program as an interdisciplinary major in the future. Students will focus on hemp plants, not marijuana, which has higher levels of THC, the compound that makes users high.

Since Naugatuck Valley Community College announced its course, medical dispensaries and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven have contacted Tuccio about tours or guest speakers. Law offices are interested in the legal components, he said.

“Right now we’re at the ground floor of the industry in the state,” Tuccio said. “Over the past couple years we’ve seen our neighbors, like, for example, Massachusetts, be interested in it, and it’s really helpful for our students to have a designation of skill on their resumes of specifically cannabis cultivation and growing operations, so they can market themselves to these growers.”

An average of 60 to 70 students are in the horticulture program at Naugatuck Valley Community College, which has a main campus in Waterbury and another campus in Danbury. About 20 percent transfer to UConn’s program.

“A lot of them just go right into the field,” Tuccio said.

Focus on the science

The course is one of the electives students in the horticulture program may take. It’s intended for horticulture students only. Although there are no prerequisites, it’s recommended that students take a greenhouse course before or while taking this class, Tuccio said.

“We have to be careful within the community college system and our campuses because we do have a vulnerable population of young students that we want to ensure we’re maintaining an integrity of the academic process and the scientific engagement of the curriculum,” he said. “It’s very important to us to always see it through that lens. This is a horticulture science course, and it’s meant to be run that way.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 19 students have signed up, he said. There’s room for 24 students. The course is offered as a pilot and is all online.

Tuccio said he sees a lot of potential in the industry. If the course is successful, the college may consider creating a cannabis certificate similar to Quinebaug’s or offering specialized certificates in other horticulture sectors.

“I don’t want to provide the image that this is some sort of magical plant that’s going to cure sort of everything with tax revenue and people’s jobs etc,” he said. “But it’s going to offer a lot of people a lot of good job opportunities.”

You May Also Like

About the Author: SteveSossin

Welcome! I keep up on all the latest cbd and thc news!