• Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Marijuana expert concerned about worker training

ByJanice K. Merrill

Nov 4, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dennis Turner could feel his anxiety mounting as he stood at the counter of a medical marijuana dispensary in Harrisonville.

An employee accused him of opening the seal on a product before purchase, which Turner insists he did not do.

“The manager wouldn’t let me have the product until she was literally like, ‘No, you won’t get it until I’m done talking’ and she was like raising the voice towards me, shouting but not shouting,” he said.

“Screaming at me and saying I’m not doing anything but causing trouble and I’m not allowed to be there anymore, I’m just picking on myself.”

Turner said he had to pay for the broken product. He also said one of the managers asked a security guard to escort him out of the store.

He said the incident triggered his anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There needs to be training there so that they (dispensary workers) know how to deal with people who have mental disabilities, who have mental disabilities, things like that,” Turner said.

James Yagielo is the CEO of HempStaff, a Florida company that trains marijuana dispensary workers.

“Missouri, you know, they put it (training requirements) in their laws, and they haven’t done much since,” Yagielo said in an interview with FOX4 on Friday.

He said Missouri had the right intention after voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana nearly four years ago, but training for workers currently in the industry was scrapped.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is the group tasked with getting recreational marijuana started if voters approve Amendment 3 on Nov. 8.

“We require dispensaries to train their employees in certain areas, but we do not provide the training,” a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement to FOX4. “They are responsible for complying with this requirement by providing the training themselves or identifying appropriate training.”

Because the state doesn’t do the training, that’s where companies like Yagielo’s come in.

“It gets a little harder (in a recreational market) to properly give them (customers) the right product,” Yagielo said.

“So training becomes really essential in the hobby, because you really have to know your products, so you can describe them specifically to someone who doesn’t really give you all the information about why they’re there.”

Yagielo said workers already in the medical industry should have no problems.

“But what happens with the recreational market is you get exponentially more volume, about two, three, four times more volume than the medical marijuana market,” he said. “So they have to hire a lot more staff who have never worked in a dispensary before, and that’s where things can get a little hectic.”

Yagielo said that if a dispensary isn’t properly staffed and trained by the time recreational marijuana becomes legalized, it risks losing customers.

“In a recreational market, often times it gets flooded so quickly that the training kind of gets dropped, and then they start getting complaints, people start saying, ‘Oh, this dispensary isn’t very good,’ and in the long run, it actually hurts their business instead of helping it.

The spokeswoman for the Department of Health told us last week that the earliest you could buy recreational marijuana if Amendment 3 passes is February.

Turner said he’s grateful for the ability to use marijuana for medical purposes and hopes dispensaries will vigorously train employees for a potential recreational market.

“Just care,” he said. “Be compassionate.”

“You are in an industry that needs compassion.”

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