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Illinois Central College Introducing New Cannabis Curriculum This Fall

Jeffrey Smudde
Like other schools, Illinois Central College switched to online courses almost exclusively last spring to safeguard students and faculty from COVID-19.

Illinois Central College is beginning its first cannabis educational programs this fall.

The programs are funded by a $200,000 grant from Trinity Compassionate Care, which operates two cannabis dispensaries in Peoria.

Julie Howar, ICC's dean of corporate and community education, said the first step is to simply answer some of the common questions about cannabis.

"There's a lot of questions that surround the cannabis industry, because it's such a new industry. And so we decided, first and foremost that we wanted to provide some community programming, just to kind of demystify what cannabis, how it's used, how it's used medicinally, recreationally," she said. "You know, there's a lot of there's just a lot of regulations in the industry, and trying to help people understand that the differences between you know, what is cannabis? What is CBD? What is hemp? You know, there's just a lot of questions out there. And so we want to help folks in the community have a better understanding, and, you know, trying to provide a balanced approach to that."

Some of the cannabis curriculum will complement internal training for cannabis dispensary employees. But ICC is already considering expansion.

"This cannabis programming may eventually expand beyond dispensary workforce development. We're seeing that other departments across the college are interested in learning more. The agriculture department, because dispensaries are aren't the only part of the industry, right? There's the growers and cultivators and and then folks even that on that product side, and you know, the different forms that it comes in. So there's a lot of interest in the industry as a whole," Howar said.

The first courses begin this fall. Dispensary training is slated to start up next spring.

"We want to find the best curriculum that we possibly can and the folks that can teach that. And so we're developing an advisory committee to put that curriculum together," Howar said.

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