With marijuana legalization right around the corner, some cannabis entrepreneurs have already jumped at the opportunity to teach others how to grow their own pot for a price.
"I know there's universities and colleges picking up commercial farming, but when it comes to a little course for homegrowing, this is it," cannabis activist and entrepreneur Abi Roach says.
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Roach is one of the organizers behind Ganja School, a pot workshop at Kensington Market's Hotbox Homegrown that will teach students everything there is about growing marijuana. She calls herself "the principal" of the school.
"When I started this, I thought what a great idea to teach people how to grow in their condo or downtown unit, so we started the school," she says.
Ganja School offers two classes — the Cannabis Starter Course that runs for six sessions at $180 every Tuesday and the medical marijuana focused Gardening Your Medicine course that runs for four classes at $120 every Thursday. The curriculums include everything from pest control to lighting and ventilation.
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The Cannabis Starter Course is an introductory course where students will learn about the plant itself and how to grow it for future use when it is legalized, Roach said. The Gardening Your Medicine course looks at different strains used for different ailments, cleanliness of the garden and pest control.
Roach said the school's two instructors have medical marijuana exemptions and there is no pot at the school. Students will be given instructional materials but will not be leaving with any marijuana, she said.
Not illegal to teach, take classes on growing pot
Det. Jeffrey Ross, of Toronto Police Service's drug squad, said that it is his understanding that it is not illegal to teach or take classes on how to grow marijuana.
"It is my belief that individuals who teach classes or take classes that focus on the production of cannabis marijuana would not be committing an offence," he said.
Ross said people involved in the classes should be aware that possessing and producing marijuana, by anyone without an medical marijuana exemption from the federal government, is prohibited under current laws.
Ross said the drug squad, however, will continue to investigate complaints from the public with a focus on protecting the community.
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Cannabis tricky to grow, instructor says
Ashley Athill will be teaching the Cannabis Starter Course and says cannabis is a tricky plant to grow.
"It's a little bit more than putting a seed in the soil. There's a lot more tools and a lot more factors that are involved," she says. "What we want to do is provide education for those individuals who want to be confident, skillful and tactful in their grow operation."
Roach says classes are almost full at a capacity of 15 per class and that she hopes to offer individual classes as well.
"If you want to learn, this is the place to be," Roach says, "and Kensington Market, there's no better neighbourhood for it than here."