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Please sell responsibly: Ontario launches cannabis retail training

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It will take four hours of online training before employees can step behind the counter of a pot shop in this province.

That’s the average length of time a mandatory course known as CannSell will take prospective workers in Ontario’s forthcoming cannabis stores to complete, its builders say.

A grow room at Canopy Growth’s Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont. For retail workers, a program has been set up in advance of the first stores, coming April 1.
A grow room at Canopy Growth’s Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont. For retail workers, a program has been set up in advance of the first stores, coming April 1.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Created by the cannabis resource company Lift & Co. and MADD Canada, the program was announced this week by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as the sole certification program for all store employees.

“By law everyone that touches cannabis (in) retail essentially has to have this course,” said Lift and Co. head Matei Olaru.

“CannSell is meant to educate cannabis retail employees on the responsible sale of cannabis and their legal and regulatory obligations,” Olaru said.

The $49.99 (plus tax) course will be offered starting Feb. 25 and will have to graduate its first class in time for the scheduled April 1 opening of Ontario’s 25 initial brick-and-mortar shops.

Read more:

First store could be in Yorkville

Canada’s edibles could be much weaker than U.S.

Collective Arts craft brewer branches out to pot

Central to the self-guided program, said MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie, is its focus on responsible sales.

“The drug presence in (road) fatalities is three times what it is for alcohol,” Murie said. “We’ve done an amazing job on alcohol so we need to applaud ourselves for that, but we still haven’t had the same rigour around cannabis.”

Murie said safety issues covered in the course will largely mirror those found in the Smart Serve Ontario training program, required of LCBO workers.

Most important, he said, are the program’s focus on the legal liability that stores could face; federal and provincial regulations surrounding pot; and the ability to recognize both cannabis and alcohol impairment.

“If you train people to know their jobs so they don’t serve minors, they don’t serve intoxicated people, that lowers the incidence of potential impaired driving,” Murie said.

But he said ongoing alcohol and gaming commission inspections must ensure that the rules taught in the online program are being enforced at shop doors and counters.

“If we can tighten up on that (responsible service) then that goes a long way to reducing the harms.”

The course will also delve into the risks, harms and responsible use of cannabis and provide an overview of the plant and its history. The latter aspect, Olaru said, will give store employees the grounding they need to build an expertise in cannabis products that consumers will demand.

Some 70 per cent of consumers rank a strong product knowledge among store staff as the top feature of a cannabis outlet, a 2018 industry report by Deloitte Canada found. Olaru said Lift could take the lead on further product education among store employees.

“CannSell is very much a foundation for you to even understand how to talk about products.”

The course will be taken individually online and students must score 80 per cent to pass. All retail managers and store owners must also be CannSell-certified under provincial rules. The program’s website, cannsell.ca, was to go live Thursday with an information package on the course.

A similar program is being offered by MADD and Lift & Co. in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and by many private stores across Canada.

Murie said CannSell programs are modular and that they can keep up with a changing industry — one that will see edibles enter the market next October, for example.

“The training needs to keep up with the marketplace,” he said. “So we designed it on that flexibility so every teaching element is a single component in the training so it can be removed, can be updated and slotted back in — components come in come out.”

Murie said he does not know if employees will be on the hook for the course costs or if store owners will cover them.

He said many LCBO applicants take the Smart Serve course at their own expense to boost their hiring prospects.

Joseph Hall is a Toronto-based reporter and feature writer. Reach him on email: gjhall@thestar.ca



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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