Niagara College has built a cannabis research bunker

Published Mar 26, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Thom_Morris

Niagara College is adding to its on-campus marijuana education curriculum. A space next to the original “CannaBunker” has been designated at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara on the lake to house the cannabis research bunker. The bunker is kindly being referred to as the "CannaResearchBunker," and it will be an added addition to the Niagara College Agriculture and Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC).

As we move forward from celebrating a year of legal weed, many would like to forget cannabis science must continue. Cannabis Science and cannabis research are necessary as there is an overwhelming need for trained and highly skilled professionals to be part of the cannabis industry. COVID-19 saw an increase in cannabis sales for various reasons, including medical and recreational use.

Niagara College has identified the need for the bunker, and the school is providing space for researchers and students far beyond the current academic space.

The Commercial Cannabis Production Program currently offered by the college is the first of its kind in Canada. The seed for this cannabis program was planted in 2018. Since then, there has been a noticeable interest in the course from the marijuana community. Among other points, the cannabis program provides training for:

  • Cultural practices of marijuana production
  • Lighting, plant nutrition, climate control pest control, among other subjects
  • How to become a Micro Cultivator License holder
  • Craft marijuana growing skills
  • Internship at a Health Canada Cannabis production License holder


The retrofitting of two sea containers has provided the much-needed space for cannabis science and cannabis research to be conducted. Within the refitted containers will be the necessary space and specialized equipment to grow different cannabis crops. This place will be beneficial for scientists who are looking to complete trials while conducting cannabis research in partnership with the broad marijuana industry.

Besides providing space for cannabis growing, the chamber or bunker as it is affectionally named will provide the ideal environment for:

  • Testing unique lighting arrays
  • Utilization of sensor
  • Pest management strategies

Do visions come true?

Let’s hope that visions do come true. Marc Nantel, the current Vice President of Research and External Relations at Niagara College, sees the dedicated marijuana facility along with the state-of-the-art equipment as a space that is globally recognized as a training, teaching, and applied cannabis research institute.

Final words

Canada was the second country globally to legalize cannabis countrywide after Uruguay. The Niagara College addition of the CannaResearchBunker will provide students with the opportunities and learning experiences from a world-class, hands-on marijuana cultivation research program. The skills achieved at the college, thanks to the addition of the bunker, will prepare students for a successful career in the budding green marijuana industry.

Perhaps this forward motion is a sign that cannabis science is part of a recognized and credible industry. The stigma is slowly diminishing, as seen by the college receiving a 149,918-dollar grant to complete work in the field. Thanks to the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada's generosity, the Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants, the intake for research projects conducted in the bunker will begin in the fall of 2021.

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