Article by Julia Wright, CBC News
With at least 20 Cannabis NB retail outlets scheduled to open across the province in July 2018, the search for qualified New Brunswick budtenders is on.
If you’re not au fait with the lingo, that’s like a bartender, only with cannabis buds.
Somewhere between a sales rep and a sommelier, their job is to recommend different varieties of the plant, weigh it out, give advice on how to consume it and make sure store operations are in line with provincial and federal regulations.
On Jan. 19, the government of New Brunswick started rolling out its plan to train its unionized workforce of budtenders.
“Ensuring Cannabis NB staff receive comprehensive training is an important part of ensuring recreational-use cannabis is introduced in a safe manner,” said a Department of Finance spokesperson.
To make that happen, NB Liquor and the Department of Finance announced a partnership with Canopy Growth to develop “a budtending course,” said Canopy president Mark Zekulin.
But there’s one hitch: most law-abiding citizens in New Brunswick aren’t, shall we say, experienced.
Canopy certainly has a lot of expertise in selling cannabis.
The company, which bills itself as the world’s largest regulated producer of the plant, runs seven grow sites and is renovating an eighth. The 40,000-square-foot facility in Fredericton’s Vanier Industrial Park is slated to open in 2019.
In September, Canopy signed an agreement to supply New Brunswick with four million grams of cannabis products with an estimated retail value of $40 million in the first year.
It’s also getting into the training business.
The program for retail employees will consist of four online modules, plus self-guided and classroom components ranging in length from two-and-a-half hours to several weeks, Zekulin said. Like liquor store workers, employees will likely receive training to identify potentially intoxicated customers to take appropriate steps.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance confirmed the minimum age to work at Cannabis NB will be 19.
It will be detailed enough, Zekulin said, to bring even a total cannabis newbie up to speed.
Most important for prospective workers, he said, is “an open mind and having enough knowledge […] to recognize that this is a very varied product,” said Zekulin. Unlike alcohol, different types of cannabis have wildly different highs — or different “effect profiles,” as he put it.
“Some [strains] will be energetic, some will be more sedative,” he said. Budtenders will need to “embrace the fact that all of these varieties are different.”