California Cannabis Retail Dispensary Training

Course Curriculum

California Responsible Vendor Training
Certification to Launch Your Career

Cannabis dispensary workers are the front line of the cannabis industry and help navigate product options for customers. They must understand how cannabis and cannabis products produce their effects and be able to convey dosing and safety information to customers.

A core element of working in a cannabis dispensary is familiarity and compliance with state law. In this course, we break down core concepts of dispensary work as well as provide a foundational understanding of federal and state laws and regulations.

Course Curriculum
1. Federal vs. State Laws
2. State of California Regulations
3. Budtending Foundations
4. Hygiene for Retail Workers
5. The Effects of Cannabis
6. Cultivar Selection
7. Products, Methods of Ingestion & Dosing
8. Customer Service

In the first two modules of this course, we will cover the laws and regulations relevant to production and sales at the state and federal levels, taking a deep dive into the particulars of California law.

In Module 1, “Federal vs. State Laws,” we examine the interaction between federal and state laws and how they shape the cannabis industry. We cover the structure of the US government and legal system and review the separation of powers between the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. We detail information on federal enforcement tactics and priorities and conclude with an overview of the risks and penalties for breaking federal laws.

In Module 2, “State of California Regulations,” we provide cannabis retail workers with the required knowledge to comply with state laws and regulations and clearly communicate them to customers. We identify the California Department of Cannabis Control as the regulatory agency that oversees cannabis laws. We discuss California consumption, travel, possession and purchasing law and the California supply chain. We cover the history of legalization in California along with penalties and fines for breaking state or city laws.

In Module 3, “Budtending Foundations,” we detail the necessary qualifications required of a dispensary worker, the most important of which is outstanding customer service skills. A dispensary worker is an ambassador for the entire cannabis industry and has unique responsibilities. We look at some specific aspects of working in a dispensary that make it different from other customer service jobs, including special product handling requirements and enhanced on-site security.

In Module 4, “Hygiene for Retail Workers,” we cover the essential hygiene standards that protect workers and the public, especially in cannabis dispensaries where customers may be older, immunocompromised, or otherwise at higher risk. We discuss personal hygiene and offer an understanding of how disease-causing pathogens spread and what retail workers can do to mitigate risk. We learn how to properly clean, sanitize, and disinfect shared spaces. Finally, we cover best practices for using personal protective equipment (PPE).

In the next two modules of the course, we dive deep into the specific knowledge you need to recommend products that meet customers’ needs and provide product guidance.

In Module 5, “The Effects of Cannabis,” we present the information necessary to provide comprehensive, evidence-based guidance about dosing and effects and help customers select the product that best meets their needs. We look at how the potency, effects, and duration of effects differ across various methods of ingestion. We also discuss potential interactions between cannabis and other drugs, including opioids.

In Module 6, “Cultivar Selection,” we examine one of the most complex — and most contested — topics in cannabis today: the identification and classification of individual cannabis cultivars, which are commonly called “strains.” We explain why the term “cultivar” is more accurate than “strain” and dispel the myth of the dichotomy between “indica” and “sativa.” Finally, we break down the factors that may influence customers’ choices and how to navigate them despite a lack of standardization in cannabis cultivar labeling.

In Module 7, “Products, Methods of Ingestion & Dosing,” we examine how products vary not just by plant variety and phytochemical profile but also by how they are ingested and processed by the body. We start by covering how cannabis is infused, extracted, and processed into other end-use products. We detail how these products vary in potency and duration of effect and the different methods used to ingest them. Finally, we teach dispensary workers how to guide customers, recommend products, and help people avoid adverse outcomes.

Finally, in Module 8, “Customer Service,” we outline techniques a dispensary worker can use to gauge customers’ level of experience with cannabis and identify their needs. We cover consultation basics and approaches for common customer types. We discuss the importance and limitations of the dispensary worker in the customer experience as a source of information and guidance. Then, we detail how to recognize the spectrum of customers’ knowledge and experience and identify ways to adjust service to accommodate needs. Finally, we share tools to diffuse situations with difficult patients.

The cannabis industry is changing every day, and it would be impossible for us to cover everything you will ever need to know. Our goal with this certification course is to give you the tools you need to get started and keep learning throughout your career in cannabis. Good luck, and remember, we are here to support you in any way we can.

About Our Self-Paced Electives

Self-Paced Programs are asynchronous, meaning you may log on and complete the courses anytime, anywhere that is convenient for you. You can access the course online as soon as you enroll.

Programs consist of reading materials developed by our expert faculty, accompanied by videos, texts, and recommended resources.

All self-paced programs include live links to a wealth of information that allow you to dig deeper into subjects of particular interest.

Each program also includes a Virtual Video and Resource Library with corresponding recorded lectures from our faculty.

Self-paced students receive access to virtual field trips, grow labs, the Oaksterdam Alumni Network, and more.

Completion of all requirements results in OU certification.

California Cannabis Retail Dispensary Training

Certification Program


Oaksterdam University’s California Responsible Vendor Training provides the most comprehensive education for pursuing a cannabis dispensary worker career in full compliance with California state law. This online course consists of educational resources developed by industry leaders and pioneers.

Certification Program – This course is only available online. There are no scheduled times. You may complete the modules at your own pace and have one calendar year to complete the course. An Oaksterdam University certificate of completion may be printed upon passing the final exam.

California Responsible Vendor Training

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