In Ontario, employees of licensed alcohol retailers such as the LCBO have the right to refuse the sale of alcohol to a customer that is obviously intoxicated. Employees are trained and certified by the province-wide Smart Serve program to ensure the safe and responsible sale of alcohol. As stated directly on the Smart Serve website, “Anyone who serves or handles alcohol in a licensed establishment in Ontario must be certified by Smart serve.”
Now, Ontario budtenders need a similar certification to legally sell weed.
Lift & Co. together with MADD Canada have created Ontario’s first certification program for cannabis retailers. It’s called the CannSell Certification. The program teaches retailers to identify customers that are intoxicated from cannabis, with the aim of correctly and safely denying purchase or service. A CannSell Certificate is required for all licence holders, employees, and managers that operate in any of Ontario’s 25 brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensaries as of April 1st, 2019.
What is CannSell?
The CannSell Certification courses launched on February 25th and serve to educate learners about cannabis and its sale. The courses provide basic knowledge of cannabis to make sure that retailers understand its different forms, its effects and potential risks, including impaired driving.
Courses are available in English and French through a self-guided program delivered by a Lift & Co. management (learning and testing) system. Training modules and exams are digital and compatible across desktop, mobile, and tablet platforms. There are currently two CannSell programs available – CannSell Standard Certificate and CannSell Expert Training.
CannSell Standard Certificate (Required)
A successful completion of the CannSell Standard Certification is required for all:
• Holders of a Retail Store Authorization
• Holders of a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence
• Employees of a cannabis retail store
The CannSell Standard Certificate course includes:
• The History of Cannabis
• Associated Risks of Cannabis Consumption and Sale
• Federal and Provincial Cannabis Regulations
• Guidelines for Responsible Sale
• Guidelines for Responsible Cannabis Use
The standard course costs $49.99 +tax and takes about 4 hours to complete. Successful completion and certification require a final exam score of 80% or higher. Learners are given two chances to challenge the test if required. If both exam challenges result in a fail, the individual will be required to pay the course fee again and retake the exam.
CannSell Expert Training (Not Required)
This advanced cannabis course provides learners with increased knowledge of cannabis. Expert training is not mandatory for cannabis retailers but does allow employees to deliver the highest level of customer service and advice for customers.
Included in the CannSell Expert Training course:
• History of Cannabis
• Cannabis Anatomy
• Cannabis Genetics
• Cannabis product path from growing to packaging
• Cannabis and the human body – the Endocannabinoid system
• Medicinal Cannabis
• Cannabis consumption methods
• Cannabis Legalization and Legal Cannabis Products
The CannSell Expert Training course costs $499.98 +tax.
What are the signs of intoxication according to CannSell?
• Red Eyes
• Decreased alertness
• Deteriorated motor control (shaky hands, twitchy facial expressions, trouble walking or standing etc.)
• Inappropriate speech volume
• Inappropriate pace of speech
• Slurred words, improper enunciation
• Shallow breathing
• Disheveled clothing
It’s important that our provinces budtenders and retailers are properly trained to sell cannabis. This includes being proficient with the products being sold and things like cannabis regulations or how to spot a fake identification card.
The CannSell course has been loosely based on the existing Smart Serve alcohol certification, which has been successful since its implementation. There are, of course, differences between the two certifications such as how products are stored and how employees should engage with customers who are not familiar with cannabis, but the overall idea is the same.
Retailers are taught to look for multiple or overwhelming evidence of severe intoxication before thinking about denying a purchase. Budtender discretion will undoubtedly play a big role in how this aspect of the program is implemented. That being said, the purpose of the CannSell Certificate is not to deny service, but to ensure that cannabis is being sold responsibly and safely.