CZEN 420: The Business of Cannabis

CZEN 420 The Business of Cannabis, cannabis photo in the background

“At The Chang School, we take great strides to ensure that our programming aligns with the needs of the Canadian labour market. An estimated $23 billion-dollar industry, there will be a multitude of unique business and employment opportunities that will present themselves with the legalization of recreational cannabis use.”
– Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, Dean, The Chang School

Watch Dean Bountrogianni discuss how The Chang School is addressing the market need for a course in the business of cannabis!

The Chang School is the first university continuing education provider in Ontario to offer a course on the business of cannabis.

This introductory course is perfect for entrepreneurs who want a competitive edge in seizing this billion dollar business opportunity. Building on Ryerson’s expertise in entrepreneurship education, the course explores a range of topics including financing for cannabis businesses and the complex regulations pertaining to the cultivation, processing, distribution, marketing, and selling of cannabis. Students will also create a business plan and participate in a site tour.

Note: This course is open to all and has no prerequisites, however, it is strongly recommended that students have an understanding of basic business concepts.

Students interested in registering for this course should send a copy of their resume to Melissa Johnson, Program Coordinator, at

Who should enrol?

  • Entrepreneurs seeking the essential knowledge and skills to start their own legal cannabis business
  • People who are seeking entry or intermediate level functional positions in the cannabis industry and want to increase their employability

What will you learn?

  • How to apply entrepreneurship principles, such as opportunity identification and evaluation, lean methods and bootstrapping, to the business of cannabis
  • The most up-to-date cannabis legislation at the provincial and federal level, and the regulations around cannabis cultivation, processing, and distribution
  • How a typical cannabis business is financed, the trade-offs between financing options, and the basic rules governing cannabis accounting under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
  • How to strategize marketing effectiveness in a highly-regulated environment
  • Issues specific to medical cannabis, such as obtaining a permit, insurance coverage, use at work, and driving.

For more information, please contact Bradley Poulos, Academic Coordinator, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, at

Industry Advisors

The following contributed their expertise to the course development of CZEN 420: The Business of Cannabis.

Rachel ColicRachel Colic, VP of Brand Strategy & PR, Pure Global Cannabis Inc.

Rachel is a frequent writer and speaker on strategic branding, marketing to women, and using cannabis as medicine. As VP of Brand Strategy & PR for Pure Global Cannabis Inc., Rachel is responsible for building the PURE family of brands for both the medical and adult-use markets in Canada and around the world. Rachel is also the founder of Eves of Eden™; a cannabis lifestyle and education brand for women in Canada, creator of the famed CROWNS™ Filter Tips, co-host of The High Friends Podcast™ focused on women who are unapologetic over their love of cannabis, and a mentor and advisor for Leaf Forward; Canada’s first cannabis business-accelerator program.

Alison GordonAlison Gordon, CEO, 48North Cannabis Corp

Alison is a veteran of the Canadian cannabis industry, bringing unique experiences and relationships to her role as Chief Executive Officer of 48North. As a skilled marketer, she is celebrated for her ability to shift public opinion and consumer behaviour, and has been named one of Canada’s Top 10 Marketers by Marketing Magazine. As co-founder of Rethink Breast Cancer, Alison is credited with growing a new generation of young breast cancer supporters, compelled by her ground-breaking communication and pharmaceutical expertise in the healthcare realm. Today, Alison is applying her skills to 48North’s business plan in this new era of the cannabis industry. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Cannabis Canada Council.

Bryan HendinBryan Hendin, Founder and President, Apollo Applied Research and Apollo Cannabis Clinic

Bryan Hendin is the Founder and President of Apollo Applied Research and Apollo Cannabis Clinics in Canada. Bryan is an experienced entrepreneur who thrives in dynamic environments and industries where he proves that entrepreneurial success is defined by one’s ability to evolve, adapt, and pivot, even in the face of adversity and skepticism. Bryan has founded two specialized health practices since 2012, including co-founding Allevio Healthcare; a world-class pain management center in Toronto. In 2013, Apollo was nothing more than a concept, fueled by Bryan’s intense passion to clinically prove the anecdotal evidence of patients who told him cannabis worked for their pain. To date, Apollo has worked with over 20,000 patients across Canada, as well as conducted clinical trials on the effectiveness of medical cannabis for PTSD, chronic pain, and sleep. Apollo continues to provide leadership in an emerging industry as one of Canada’s leading medical cannabis clinics treating patients nationally for their chronic health conditions. Apollo has been described as “illogical until it was brilliant” to the credit of Bryan’s tenacity.

Chris JonesChris Jones, Associate, Origin House

Chris Jones is a cannabis industry professional involved in strategy and finance who is shaping ideas with stakeholders and thought leaders across the sector, and who has played a key role in multiple cannabis-related strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Before cannabis, he led business development at a boutique law firm in Toronto; he also had roles with two global construction companies in Canada, where he successfully bid on RFQs and RFPs for multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects. In 2013, Chris graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Law and Business, from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management and will complete an MBA degree from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business in the fall of 2018. Chris’ business background, coupled with his extensive experience in the business and legal fields, are formidable assets in helping develop and advance the future of cannabis products and the industry’s emerging medical and health innovations.

Mike LickverMike Lickver, Executive VP, Auxly Cannabis Group Inc.

Mike Lickver is the Executive Vice President of Strategy of Auxly Cannabis Group Inc., a vertically integrated Canadian cannabis company. Prior to joining Auxly, Mike was a corporate and commercial lawyer at a large international Bay Street law firm where he co-founded the cannabis practice in 2013 and helped grow it into a global leader. As one of Canada’s leading advisors in the cannabis industry, he has represented a variety of global industry participants and has played a key role in a wide variety of domestic and international corporate and commercial transactions. Mike speaks frequently at conferences across the globe on topics related to the cannabis industry and is also the Canadian editor for the International Cannabis Law Journal. Mike is also an adjunct professor at Western Law where he teaches “Cannabis Law and Practice,” a course he designed and developed, and is the first of its kind in Canada. Mike also sits on the Board of Directors of Dixie Brands, Inc., the Arts and Culture Committee for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and has previously acted as a director for various not-for-profits and privately held cannabis companies. Mike earned his Law (J.D.) and MBA degrees from the University of Western Ontario and the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Steve G. NaraineSteve G. Naraine, Founder, Aether Research

Steve has a vast amount of practical and theoretical experience in the field of cannabis research and cultivation. Being recognized as an innovative and industry leading researcher, he has been fortunate to collaborate with international experts on various initiatives. Steve has been an invited lecturer at several universities and organizations, including the International Pharmaceutical Academy. Currently, Steve is the Chief Science Officer of CannaVida, while continuing his own research at his firm, Aether Research. As a researcher, his focus is on cannabis morphology and systematics. His published work has been in collaboration with Ryerson University, University of Vermont, and Agriculture Canada. Steve has given advice and consulted on topics ranging from cultivar selection, extraction techniques, products, cannabis evolution and ecology, good manufacturing practices (GMP), standard operating procedures, and international regulations.

Harrison NewlandsHarrison Newlands, Business Development, Fire & Flower

Harrison Newlands is a cannabis industry executive and private and public market investor. He is currently serving as the Head of Business Development for the Canadian Retailer, Fire & Flower, and has co-founded and negotiated financing for numerous other cannabis-related companies. Harrison’s expertise is in business development, strategy, and financing, he also carries extensive professional knowledge of the North American cannabis market. Harrison has a distinctive ability to evaluate business opportunities both within Canada and globally. Lastly, he is a Director and Board Member of the Newlands Family Foundation.

Karen Yves QuintoKaren Yves Quinto, Director of Extractions, Weed Me

As Weed Me’s Director of Extractions, Karen contributes industrial-scale experience from one of the top 10 pioneering medical licensed producers in the country. Prior to the cannabis industry, she worked in the Hazardous Air Pollution Laboratory at Environment Canada, extracting global air pollution samples for the United Nations’ Stockholm Convention. This experience transitioned her into the position of Extraction Technologist for MedReleaf Corp., now a subsidiary company of Aurora Cannabis. As Director of Extractions, Karen is responsible for building the analytical and extraction labs of the facility, as well as spearheading the research and development of her department.

Robyn RabinovichRobyn Rabinovich, VP of Business Strategy, TerrAscend

Robyn Rabinovich is a business strategy professional with extensive experience in the cannabis space. Her knowledge supports her ability to evaluate strategic business opportunities within Canada and across the globe. Robyn obtained her International Business Degree from Dalhousie University.

Breanna RoycroftBreanna Roycroft, VP, GrowWise Health

Breanna is the Vice President of GrowWise Health, one of Canada’s leading Cannabis Education Services. She oversees the development, implementation, and expansion of cannabis education programming and service delivery across Canada. Breanna has over 10 years of experience working in the health and education sectors, both here in Canada and around the world. She is a passionate advocate for patients’ rights, and strives to develop healthcare programming that empowers individuals with the tools and knowledge they need to advocate for themselves.

Brigitte SimonsDr. Brigitte Simons, VP of Laboratories and Operations, Molecular Science Corp

Dr. Brigitte Simons is a business development executive in support of leading-edge laboratory services and data management tools for the development of safe cannabis, bridging her expertise within analytical science, pharma drug development, and environmental testing. Brigitte has a professional track record for laboratory testing instrumentation, software, and sample contract design for Canadian federal agencies, such as Canadian Food Inspection, Health Canada, Agriculture Canada, and Environment Canada. She spent over six years working in the Drug Toxicology and Analysis Division at Health Canada in a mass spectrometry testing facility. She has completed two post-doctoral fellowships at the Clinical Sciences Hospital of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute within the famous National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Maryland, USA. With over 15 years of experience operating mass spectrometers, Brigitte managed the sales for full laboratory services, covering clinical, forensics to product health, and environmental safety for the federal and provincial Canadian government. Prior to working abroad, Brigitte received her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at the University of Ottawa in a joint chemistry program with drug pharmacology at Health Canada. Brigitte is now the Vice President of Laboratories and Operations at Molecular Science Corp.

Michael VerboraDr. Michael Verbora, Chief Medical Officer, Aleafia

Dr. Michael Verbora is an expert in cannabinoid therapy and has completed over three thousand consultations on cannabinoid therapy. He is a global speaker, researcher, and expert witness on cannabinoid medicine. He has spoken to the European Parliament about cannabis policy and design. He serves on the Ontario Medical Association as an executive for the medical cannabis interest group. He is an active member of Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC), and Doctors for Responsible Access (DRA). Michael is passionate about advancing the science on cannabis therapy and reducing the stigma around cannabis patients and use.

Peter WojewnikPeter Wojewnik, Vice President, dicentra Cannabis Consulting

As Vice President, Peter Wojewnik oversees all client service operations and directs corporate business development strategies to ensure dicentra Cannabis Consulting continues to expand its global presence. His constant focus is the long-term business growth of his clients. Peter is responsible for assessing the needs of clients and working with the dicentra team to ensure that optimal solutions are delivered.

Peter has a solid understanding of business and industry trends that allows him to understand his clients’ needs and ensure that the services dicentra provides contribute directly to the growth and prosperity of their businesses.

His educational credentials include an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto, completing a double major in Psychology and Biology. He earned his MBA degree, with a specialty in International Business Development, from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. He is presently a member of key U.S. and Canadian trade associations and often contributes articles on regulatory and business matters to leading industry publications.