The Importance of Training Your Staff

Can you think of a job that doesn’t require some training?  Even the kid with the paper route needs to know something about how to get the job done.

It’s the same with the staff positions in a cannabis dispensary.  Unlike comparable jobs, there’s more involved than knowing the inventory and how to make change.  Unlike similar jobs, even those in the drugstore, there’s a very high degree of government regulation involved.  No one ever needs to ask their pharmacist, ‘I’m going out of state—may I take my penicillin with me?’

If you consider the parallel industry of wine and spirit shops (also regulated), an employee can easily get into difficulty by forgetting to check an ID, selling alcohol to a minor, messing up the taxes, or buying outside the store’s allotted area.  Errors can lead to fines and suspension or revocation of the store’s liquor license.

It’s very confused.  Federally, marijuana for any purpose is illegal.  However, roughly half the states in the US have legalized medicinal cannabis, with strict guidelines as to quantity, concentration, means of administration, and locations of use.  The rules differ from state to state, and sometimes from county to county as well.  For example, the City of Seattle recently made legislative changes that give the City regulatory power over the cannabis industry, but it’s effective only in Seattle.

Your staff must know all of this.  Particularly frustrating, if you have dispensaries located in different counties, or states, your staff will need to be familiar with the regulations of each location if you intend to move individuals from dispensary to dispensary.  Error can have ugly consequences.

It’s not only the regulatory aspect of medicinal marijuana that staff have to know.  They need a good working knowledge of the products themselves.  A history of marijuana use doesn’t necessarily make a staff person an expert.  What is the difference between cannabis sativa and cannabis indica?  How does marijuana differ from hashish?  Is hashish legal?  Can it be used medicinally?  Anyone who works in Customer Service, or Sales, knows that the public are brilliant at asking difficult questions.  Your staff are not physicians, neither are they lawyers, yet you can be sure someone will ask medical and legal questions.  Dispensary assistants need to know what to say; they also need to know what not to say.

The public will want to be assured and reassured:  will this make me sick?  I’m sensitive to a lot of medications—is this likely to be one of them?  What can I expect?  Are there side-effects? How long is a single dose effective?  My friend takes medical cannabis, but never gets high—what gives?

Dispensary employees ought to know everything about the products in the inventory—how they differ, how effective they are, how taking cannabis in tea differs from pill form, or lotions, or oils.  They should be given standardized training, so they all give the same answer.  Certification is recommended to be certain they really have a grasp of the details.

Your employees should recognize that the cannabis industry is attractive to the criminal element.  Not everyone knows how to identify security risks, or knows what to do during a robbery.  Security training and robbery awareness are critical to the safety of the staff and the security of the dispensary.

By now, you may be tempted to throw up your hands and pursue a career in something simple, like astrophysics, but don’t give up! Please explore CTI’s website.  There are courses, and links to courses, that meet many of these training and certification needs.