A new study published in JCO Oncology Practice, and conducted by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found uneven on-the-job cannabis dispensary training that can make a difference when patients want to try cannabis for medical reasons. Training often focused more on sales skills and operational procedures with less attention paid to actual cannabis knowledge. Research studies have shown that oncology teams offer cancer patients minimal or no clinical advice regarding medicinal cannabis, so, many patients rely on dispensary personnel for cannabis guidance. The folks over at Mission Organic have trained staff and quality goods as part of the experience at their dispensary.
The study included interviews with 26 cannabis dispensaries personnel in management or client-facing roles in 13 states. 54% were female with an average age of 40. Most participants expressed passion for their profession and reported positive cannabis experiences that inspired them to pursue a cannabis industry career. According to study author Ilana Braun, M.D., “The dispensary personnel we interviewed are really passionate about what they’re doing and are trying really hard to give good advice. They’re working hard in their off hours, paying for their own coursework, and doing whatever they can to learn.” Most participants reported dispensary training to be unstandardized and weak and supported the development of quality, standardized, vendor training. Participants also believed that dispensary hiring decisions often were based more on sales skills than cannabis knowledge.
Some states require responsible vendor training, but many do not. Budtenders or dispensary agents, interact with all types of consumers that use cannabis for recreational purposes as well as for managing pain, anxiety, and other symptoms. Therefore, budtenders need cannabis training in order to provide accurate information on how different cannabis products work. Study co-author Manan Nayak, PhD described the current challenge of improving patient cannabis education: “Right now, the system is set up so that everyone – oncologists and dispensary personnel – is working in silos. It falls to the patient to find out where to go, get information from dispensary personnel, try different products, and maybe report back to their oncologist. The onus is often on the patient to communicate with the dispensary.” More research on medical cannabis training will identify ways to close the loop between the dispensary and clinical team in order to support patients.