Only 55% of cannabis dispensary staff receive formal training, report finds

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  • Small study by Stanford University surveyed dispensary staff across the US
  • They found just over half had been trained, and few of those that were trained reported receiving medical training
  • However, 94% of the 55 respondents said they gave advice on strains, doses 

Only 55 percent of staff at cannabis dispensaries receive formal training, according to a new report.

The study by Stanford University also found that only 20 percent of employees who did receive training were taught specialized medical or scientific information.

However, 94 percent of staff reported giving dosage advice to patients. 

The peer-reviewed study comes at a pivotal time as legalization of cannabis for medical use increases across the U.S.

A new report warns more investigations are needed into the training of dispensary staff as they become more prevalent around the US

A new report warns more investigations are needed into the training of dispensary staff as they become more prevalent around the US

Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C., have laws that permit medical marijuana.

As a result, Dr Nancy Haug of Palo Alto University and Stanford University School of Medicine, says the training of dispensary staff, who may recommend cannabis type and concentration to patients, requires closer examination.

She warned that some of the cannabis recommendations made by dispensary staff have not been shown to be effective and could even cause a patient’s condition to worsen.

Her investigation involved colleagues from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Philadelphia Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and VA Palo Alto Healthcare System.

Though it was small – involving 55 cannabis dispensary staff members – the authors said their findings covered a broad range of centers, and indicate a need for further investigation.  

The survey was designed to assess the training, knowledge, attitudes, and practices of dispensary staff. 

The respondents came from Colorado, California, Arizona, Oregon, DC, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. 

First they were asked personal factors – such as age, race, sexual orientation, and education – as well as how much they earned at the dispensary and how many hours they worked.

They were also asked specifics about the dispensary – where it is, what kind of dispensary it is, and what their job entails.

The majority of respondents (59 percent) worked at medical dispensaries. 

One third were based in large cities, one third in small cities, and the rest in rural or suburban areas. 

Just over half the staff surveyed said they’d had some formal training for their positions.

Of those that did receive training, very few learned specifics about the medicinal or scientific properties.

Thirty-five percent of trained staff were taught customer service, and 26 percent learned business.

Only 20 percent of trained staff received medical training, while just 20 percent received scientific training.

However, 94 percent said they gave advice – either on particular cannabis strains, suggested administration methods, potential side effects, benefits of cannabis or dosing.

The study, published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, is free to read online.  

‘These numbers are appalling, but unfortunately not surprising,’ says Editor-in-Chief Daniele Piomelli, PhD, University of California-Irvine, School of Medicine. 

‘Establishing training guidelines and programs for dispensary staff has clearly become an urgent national priority.’ 


Health | Mail Online

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