The dream of owning your dispensary probably didn’t begin with looking at the potential for liability, yet knowing the risks and warding off problems are both fundamental components of operating a successful dispensary. While owners need to do everything possible on the macro level, much of the legal exposure comes with the staff and the everyday operations, making it crucially important to have budtenders who take liability seriously every day they are selling cannabis. With the cannabis industry continuing to expand into uncharted territories, the dispensaries that put together an appropriate game plan to reduce liability will have a significant long-term advantage over those that don’t make liability a focus. Here are a few things that owners and employees of every dispensary need to think about.
See your dispensary through the eyes of a new customer
In addition to being good advice for attracting and holding onto customers, seeing from a new customer’s perspective is also an important first step for limiting liability. Even though many customers will walk in the door being very experienced with cannabis, the newfound legality will also attract many who have had little to no cannabis exposure whatsoever. That’s why it’s very important that budtenders know the effects of all the different products on display, as the last thing you want to do is setup a new customer with a product that is not a good fit. Promoting strains with lower THC levels for inexperienced customers can be a simple way to limit liability as well as earn the trust of a potential long-term customer.
Additionally, budtenders need to be very clear about the effects of other products that may be more intense or last longer than smoking or vaping. In short, budtenders who provide appropriate warnings to the inexperienced will significantly reduce liability while cultivating a relationship based on honesty and responsibility. If customers feel ill-treated or witness potential in-store violations, however, they’re much more likely to submit a complaint to the local authorities about your dispensary. Instead of gaining a customer, you may end up with an unwanted visit from local law enforcement, or worse.
Know the rules and don’t downplay the basics
It’s an exciting time for cannabis sellers and cultivators, as public opinion continues to shift in favor of widespread legalization. But even with steadily improving public opinion, a vocal minority would love to shut down every dispensary possible, which is why every owner/employee needs to ensure that a dispensary appears completely legitimate at all times. For starters, it’s critical to thoroughly read up on all local and state laws well before going operational and to stay up on any changes that might apply. Just like with liquor stores, basics like clearly posting your license are a must, but maintaining a storefront that is fully up to code is equally as important when it comes to limiting any legal liability.
Beyond having the right license and legal knowledge, having budtenders who are strict with the execution of the rules is also a fundamental part of curbing legal exposure. Having a staff that can have a little fun with the customers is also a good business strategy, but there can be no wiggle room at all when it comes to selling to the appropriate ages and not selling more than a customer can legally carry. Sooner or later, a staff is very likely to experience sob stories about how an 18-year-old should be allowed to purchase cannabis. Regardless of whether a budtender agrees, making an exception for a customer is the type of mistake that can completely bring down a dispensary, or at least create a serious legal headache.
Training as an ongoing process
One of the best ways to ensure a dispensary has budtenders who know how to correctly communicate with customers is by having an effective training program, which can take a variety of forms. Whether a program is rigid and formal or on the lighter side, it’s vital to stress the importance of listening and communicating as well as hammering home the fundamentals of liability. Running a training program before a budtender hits the floor might also not be enough, which is why it is good idea to follow-up and test budtenders once they have had
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