Cannabis Dispensary Staff Training from Denver Consulting Group

cannabis dispensary staff training.

Cannabis Dispensary Staff Training.

As legalization of cannabis for medical use increases across the U.S., the training of dispensary staff, who may recommend cannabis type and concentration to patients, requires closer examination. A new study, which found that only 55% of dispensary staff reported having some formal training for their positions, is published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, a new peer-reviewed journal. The article is available free on the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research website.

In the article “Training and Practices of Cannabis Dispensary Staff ,” it was found that only 20% of staff had any medical or scientific training, even though most (94%) reported giving advice to patients. Nancy Haug, PhD, Palo Alto University and Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, CA), and coauthors from VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD), Philadelphia Veteran’s Administration Medical Center (PA), and University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (Philadelphia), report 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.

Although each state has created its own legislation to govern the cultivation and distribution of cannabis to individuals, there is currently little to no guidance or oversight of associated patient care. Indeed, with the exception of a few states that have mandated cannabis-specific physician continuing medical education (e.g., New York), the majority of states do not require any training for either those providing “recommendations” for patient cannabis use (i.e., physicians) or those actually dispensing cannabis to consumers (i.e., dispensaries and/or “bud tenders”).

This is troubling, as cannabis comprises more than 400 chemical compounds and is associated with widely variable effects among humans. To provide a specific example, empirical literature has shown that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant, can be anxiogenic, while cannabidiol (CBD), a secondary cannabinoid, has anxiolytic effects. Next, the literature would suggest that the provision of cannabis, comprising high levels of THC, to individuals with anxiety may be contraindicated.

Although it is important to note that rigorous research on the use of cannabis as a therapeutic remains in its relative infancy, issues of inconsistent and nonempirically supported practices by physicians plague the cannabis and substance use field more broadly. So, to offer initial information regarding current practices by those providing cannabis recommendations to patients, the present study aimed to document the training and practices of a sample of dispensary staff (i.e., “bud tenders”). Given its descriptive nature, no specific hypotheses were forwarded; however, information garnered from this study is meant to inform targeted implementation science efforts aimed at streamlining provider practices and highlighting the need for structured education in this emerging industry that has developed outside traditional mechanisms of medical drug development.

“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.”


Denver Consulting Group can provide Cannabis Dispensary Staff Training. As the nation’s leading marijuana industry consultants, their team consists of experts in growing, dispensary operations, compliance, law, and all aspects of recreational and medical marijuana.

Contact Denver Consulting Group today for more information on cannabis dispensary staff training.