CBC News
February 20, 2019

All licence holders, managers, employers will need to take 4-hour online course

The groups behind Ontario’s first cannabis retail training certification revealed details of the program in Toronto on Wednesday.

The CannSell certificate will be mandatory for all managers, employees and licence holders planning to work in one of the province’s 25 brick-and-mortar pot shops when their doors open on April 1.

Lift & Co. — a technology company that says it “helps Canadians explore, understand and make better-informed decisions around cannabis” — developed the program in conjunction with MADD Canada. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario commissioned it last year.

Course to take about 4 hours

Those hoping to obtain a certificate will be required to take an online course and exam at a cost of $49.99. The course is designed to take an average learner about four hours, according to Nick Pateras, vice president of strategy at Lift & Co.

Participants get a maximum of two chances to score at least 80 per cent on the final exam before they are required to re-take each component of the program.

“The whole idea is that we are empowering them to deliver responsible sales,” he said.

Pateras added the certification is similar to the Smart Serve Ontario program that workers who serve alcohol are required to complete.

“Because we’ve had 95 years of prohibition, there is a lot of misinformation around cannabis. 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.”

Course to provide ‘base level of knowledge’

Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift & Co., said the online course is “about providing someone with a base level of knowledge to intelligently speak and safely sell the product.”

“It something that exists for alcohol across the country. Cannabis is a more complicated product. The education curve is going to be much steeper … It only makes sense that you need to the person selling you the product to be able to speak about it intelligently,” he said at a morning news conference downtown.

A sample quiz distributed to reporters contained such multiple choice questions as: What does THC stand for? Which of the following is not a terpine? There is no known safe amount of amount of cannabis to consume while pregnant — true or false?

Provincial regulators and law enforcement will be able to demand that those working in cannabis retail locations prove they have successfully completed the course. There will be penalties for those who fail to do so, though the  province has not yet said what those penalties will be.

 Olaru estimates that each store will have between 10 and 15 certified workers.

The course includes training on how to spot customers impaired by drugs or alcohol or those trying to use a fake ID to buy pot.

Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada, said that the non-profit group believes “education will be key” to ensure Ontarians use cannabis responsibly.

“We feel strongly that this kind of training can reduce impaired driving,” Murie said.