MADD to offer intoxication training to cannabis store staff

The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving says people who work in stores that sell pot need to be trained the same way liquor store staff are trained to prevent intoxicated driving.

MADD has teamed up with a company called Lift to offer training for staff at cannabis retail outlets

MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie says the signs of intoxication by cannabis are different than alcohol. (Province of P.E.I.)

The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Canada says people who work in stores that sell pot need to be trained the same way liquor store staff are trained to prevent intoxicated driving. 

MADD Canada has partnered with Lift, a company that provides information about cannabis strains and producers, to offer a retail training certification program for frontline staff in future cannabis retail outlets across the country. 

MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie told CBC Radio's All In A Day staff at these stores will need to be knowledgeable about what's being sold — what strains do what, what percentage of THC the strains have — but that one of the biggest concerns in selling cannabis is knowing when not to sell it.

"We want to have responsible service for cannabis, denying people that are minors that are trying to purchase and also anybody that might be intoxicated, whether by cannabis or alcohol," he said.

Signs of intoxication by cannabis are not the same as alcohol and teaching staff the difference will initially be very difficult, he added.

"It's harder for cannabis," Murie said, "and we don't have decades of training and frontline experience to do it."

He added that training could start off in a classroom setting by looking at various scenarios and videos to help staff identify signs of intoxication. Eventually, as new employees come on, the training would likely shift online, he said.

Provincial roll out

Each province is coming up with its own plan on how to licence and oversee distribution of pot once it's legalized on July 1, 2018.

In Ontario, the provincial government plans to open stand-alone stores, all run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. But unlike LCBO stores, patrons won't be able to browse aisles and pick out the products they want. Instead, cannabis will be available in a behind-the-counter setup, similar to buying cigarettes.

Other provinces will have retail locations operated by private companies and Murie said each province will determine how training will be rolled out. 

"The training is going happen in the new year, after governments make decisions on who's going to be the provider," he said.  

"Some [provinces] ... might want to outsource that to a third party like ourselves," Murie added. "Or in the private market, it might be a requirement of government that they have to be trained, and they'll specify who will provide that training."