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The Effectiveness of Online Responsible Vendor Training Program for Recreational Marijuana Stores

September 2018

To date, 6 U.S. states have implemented retail sales of recreational marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. One important issue for these states has been how to implement training in responsible retail sales practices. Examples of how to accomplish this task successfully come from the Responsible Beverage Service trainings for selling and serving alcohol.

A new study on the quality of online responsible marijuana vendor (RMV) training has just been released. The study used an online RMV training that was developed in consultation with state regulators, store personnel, and local law enforcement in Colorado and Washington state. The training focused on knowledge of state statutes and regulations, ID checking, the health effects of marijuana, customer service practices (including recognizing intoxicated patrons), and rules of the trade.

The curriculum was developed for a randomized controlled trial to test its efficacy for staff recruited from a random sample of 225 stores in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. A total of 420 diverse store employees completed the online training. Then each trainee was given a survey about their experiences to gauge usability and trainee attitudes about the training.

The results showed that:
(1) more than 75 percent of trainees found the training user-friendly;
(2) almost 70 percent were satisfied with the training; and
(3) slightly more than 90 percent would recommend the training to another employee.

Critically, the training significantly improved trainees’ ability to check IDs, and to spot intoxicated customers as well as their confidence to use their state's inventory tracking system.

Says one of the co-authors, Dr. Robert Saltz of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Prevention Research Center: “The online curriculum was seen very favorably by the employees, which is a good sign.  We’re looking forward to seeing the results of the next phase of the research – a randomized trial to see if the training results in more responsible selling and serving behavior.”

The study concluded that online RMV training was acceptable to retail recreational marijuana staff and that using it may improve responsible sales practices. Thus, the authors suggest that RMV should be considered for the recreational marijuana market.

Source: Buller DB, Woodall WG, Saltz R, Grayson A, Buller MK. Implementation and Effectiveness of an Online Responsible Vendor Training Program for Recreational Marijuana Stores in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State. Journal of public health management and practice. August 31, 2018. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000843. [Epub ahead of print].

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