Cannabis retailers in Ontario will be required to undergo mandatory training that includes tips on how to identify stoned customers. Other topics in the online curriculum cover Canadian cannabis history, federal and provincial legislation, compliance requirements, and the risks and potential harm associated with cannabis use.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has selected CannSell as the only authorized training program for the 25 cannabis retailers scheduled to open in the province beginning April 1. CannSell, a product of Lift & Co. Corp., must be completed by all cannabis retail employees and managers before they begin work. The company has a similar training program for employees who serve alcoholic beverages. Nick Pateras, vice president of strategy at Lift & Co., told the CBC that the training is designed to ensure employees start work with reliable information about cannabis.
“Because we’ve had 95 years of prohibition, there is a lot of misinformation around cannabis,” Pateras said. “There are certain myths around its health benefits, maybe not a full understanding of the risks of cannabis consumption. We want to make sure we are conveying that when someone comes into a store and buys cannabis.”
Jean Major, Registrar and CEO of the AGCO, said in a press release that the retail certification program will help retailers comply with the law.
“The overarching objective of the program is to educate cannabis retail employees on the responsible sale of cannabis, as well as their legal and regulatory obligations,” Major said.
One regulation requires that retailers not sell cannabis to customers who are already intoxicated. Andrew Murie is the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, which helped Lift & Co. develop CannSell. He said the training will help keep impaired drivers off the road.
“Effective training programs for cannabis retail sales staff will help reduce the risk of impaired driving,” said Murie. “With our extensive expertise in education and awareness around the prevention of impaired driving, MADD Canada is proud to team with Lift & Co to develop and deliver comprehensive training that includes a strong emphasis on the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis, and how to prevent it.”
How to Tell If a Customer is Too Stoned
Murie said the training will help employees determine if a customer has already had too much.
“(Intoxicated people) fumble with things,” said Murie. “As they’re putting their card in, and they have to put their pin number in, they’ll fumble with that,” he said. “Speech is a real big thing — it goes high, it goes low…. There’s a delayed reaction when you ask them a question. They’re kind of looking off to the side.”
Murie said the program trains employees to look for several signs of impairment before refusing a sale.
“One of the fundamental questions right off the bat was: If you smell cannabis on somebody, is that enough to say you’re not going to serve them? We had to go, ‘No that’s not enough,’” Murie said. “This is not about use of cannabis; it’s whether they’re intoxicated…. We’re looking for gross signs of intoxication — where it’s really obvious … something’s not right about that individual.”
After completing the four-hour training program, employees will be required to pass a final exam with a score of 80 percent or higher. After two failed attempts, the student must repay the CA$49.99 course fee to take the test again. Lift & Co. CEO Matei Olaru said the program is designed to be challenging.
“It should be strict,” Olaru said. “You’re selling a product that can affect someone’s consciousness and state of being. You better know what you’re doing.”