By S. Siobhan McCarthy
As we move into the legalization of cannabis in Canada, the dispensary model as we know it, especially in Vancouver, will begin to change. On June 7th, 2018, the Senate of Canada passed Bill C45, the Cannabis Act as amended, at third reading by a vote of 56 to 30, with one abstention. The House of Commons must now consider the Senate’s amendments.
As a Budtender, it is important to be aware of the changes being proposed for legal dispensaries. Some generally known facts are that the age of a Budtender should be 19 and they should not be selling recreational cannabis to anyone under the age of 18.
That being said, each Province and can override some of the proposed ages. For example, every Province and Territory have recommended the minimum age of 19, except for Alberta and Quebec where the proposed minimum legal age is 18.
10 (1) Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited to sell cannabis, or any substance represented or held out to be cannabis, to
(a) an individual who is 18 years of age or older;
(b) an individual who is under 18 years of age; or
(c) an organization.
So, now that you have determined that you the Budtender and your client are not minors.
Here are 5 things, a Budtender should not do in order to stay compliant:
1. Give Medical Advice
Under the new legal system, Budtenders are not allowed to give any medical advice whatsoever. No matter how tempting it may be, or how much you want to help someone, it is against the law. You are not a Doctor. Most trained Budtenders know that they are not qualified to diagnose anyone. The new legislation takes things one step further and so one must be mindful of how they service their clients in the new legal system.
False promotion — cannabis
18 (1) It is prohibited to promote cannabis in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or that is likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, value, quantity, composition, strength, concentration, potency, purity, quality, merit, safety, health effects or health risks.
2. Touch the Product
There will be no more need for gloves, or handling tools i.e. Chopsticks.
In the new landscape of legal Dispensaries, post the implementation of Bill C45, a Budtender will NOT be allowed to touch the product directly. Nor will the client! The days of big glass jars loaded full of premium flowers, that are displayed in glass showcases and then brought to the client for them to view and smell, will be over.
The Budtender will no longer be allowed to dispense flowers in front of the client because all cannabis flower will come in pre-packaged, weight-determined, sealed packages with clear, concise (and boring) labelling.
25 It is prohibited for a person that is authorized to sell cannabis to sell cannabis that has not been packaged or labelled in accordance with the regulations.
Display of cannabis
29 Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited for a person that is authorized to sell cannabis to display it, or any package or label of cannabis, in a manner that may result in the cannabis, package or label being seen by a young person.
3. Deli-Style Weighing and Dispensing
Similar to above, as all of the cannabis products that will be supplied to the Dispensaries from the Licensed Producers come in a pre-packaged form, there will be no need to continue with the deli-style weighing and dispensing. Although all of the packagings, is not great for the environment, it does help ensure quality control and that there isn’t any contamination of the product once it has left the LP and entered the Dispensing system. Dispensaries will no longer have to train Budtenders how to use a scale properly, nor maintain their scales to make sure they are accurate.
37 Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited to sell or distribute cannabis or a cannabis accessory by means of a dispensing device.
4. Sell Dabs or Concentrates
Unfortunately, Budtenders will not be permitted to sell Dabs or Concentrates. Those highly sought after and popular products will be considered “Prohibited Sales” and will not be found in Dispensaries that are legal. Likewise, edibles and topicals are also illegal and won’t be available in the legal marketplace. One hopes that after legalization, amendments will be made to the Cannabis Act to allow for the regulation of these products in the marketplace.
33Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited for a person that is authorized to sell cannabis to sell cannabis of any class that is not referred to in Schedule 4.
34 (1) Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited to sell any mixture of substances that contain cannabis and any substance that is referred to in column 1 of Schedule 5.
5. Sell More Than 30 Grams
A Budtender can’t sell more than 30 grams of cannabis total. Even if a client has a medical prescription for a higher amount, you can not sell them more than 30 grams of cannabis. This is a tricky one where you may have to do a little math, especially if your client is buying dried flowers and permitted oils. If a client wants to purchase their monthly supply of CBD oil, you won’t be able to upsell them an ounce of their favourite flower, as well. They would have to come back another day. As a budtender, you are responsible to make sure you are not dispensing over the legal limit.
9 (1) Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited
(a) for an individual who is 18 years of age or older
(i) to distribute cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which is equivalent, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, to more than 30 g of dried cannabis,
We are all creatures of habit and as a budtender, you can’t rely upon your old training, in the present system to transfer directly to the new rules and regulations. It is best to make sure you are up to speed on all of the legal changes so that you can best serve your clients with confidence and care. If you are presently a Budtender looking to advance your skills or are looking to be a Budtender in the new legal landscape, consider updating your professional development. CannaReps has an upcoming two-day Cannabis Sommelier Course, where you can learn your roles and responsibilities for ethical, compliant cannabis retail service in a legal Canadian dispensary.