Lift & Co. and MADD to train Ontario’s provincial store budtenders

In just four hours, the online course is supposed to arm a frontline retailer with all they need know about selling government weed

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has entrusted Lift & Co.—a cannabis media company—with the responsibility of educating the province’s future budtenders.

"With Ontario representing close to 40 per cent of the Canadian population, Lift & Co. will now be forever shaping the future of the cannabis industry in Canada,” said Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift & Co, in a release today (February 7).

The Toronto media company began working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to develop retail training certification programs for cannabis retailers in late 2017. The original concept was launched as 240 hours of modular online and in-class content customized to each province’s retail distribution model.

In June 2018, Lift & Co. announced it had further refined the training into the “Cannabis Retail Certification” program: a turn-key educational solution aimed at both government and private retailers. The course was offered as a two-day "boot camp" for frontline employees or a five-day intensive course for store managers and product specialists.

Today, the AGCO announced it has whittled down Lift & Co.’s offerings to present CannSell—a four-hour e-learning program delivered via a branded learning management system.

Much like a Smart Serve certification required of individuals selling alcohol, CannSell is a series of self-guided online models required of all government employees working in the public cannabis dispensaries. The cost for an individual course runs at $49.99 plus tax.

Comparatively, Ontario’s Smart Serve is also a four-hour digital course presented in a series of videos, text, quizzes, with a culminating examination, offered to an individual for $34.95.

The course will teach students about the “responsible sale of cannabis, as well as their legal and regulatory obligations”—which includes outlining the federal government's rules around what retailers can and cannot legally say about weed. Currently, the guidelines around selling and advertising cannabis, as defined by Bill C-45, mandate no medical claims can be made about the plant, including various restrictions around terminology and consumption guidance.

The course will also include information about the ingestion methods, product varieties, and effects of cannabis, as well as the perceived risks surrounding impaired driving.

The program will be offered in both English and French and students are required to score at least 80 per cent or higher to pass.

CanSell is currently the only AGCO Board approved cannabis retail training program in Ontario and will be up-and-running later this month. The province's first dispensaries are projected to open for business on April 1, giving budtenders plenty of time to complete the crash course on the highly complex process of selling a pyschtropic and therapeutic substance.

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