Research Society on Marijuana: Online RMV Training

Klein Buendel - Tuesday, 22 August 2017 08:02

Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel presented a poster entitled, “Responsible Vendor Training for Recreational Marijuana Sales: Usability Testing and Implementation with Retail Personnel,” at the first scientific meeting of the Research Society on Marijuana in Fort Collins, Colorado in late July.

Four U.S. states have implemented regulatory systems for retail sales of recreational marijuana and another four states approved retail sales in the 2016 election. Training in responsible sales practices in the alcohol market has reduced sales to minors and intoxicated patrons. An online training in responsible sales practices for the recreational marijuana industry was developed and implemented with retail stores. Online delivery of the responsible marijuana vendor (RMV) training has several advantages including 24/7 availability, wide-scale reach, consistent presentation, low cost, and an immersive, engaging learning environment.

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Dr. David Buller at RSMj

The RMV training was organized into five modules: 1) state laws and regulations, 2) ID checking including third party sales, 3) health effects of marijuana including safe storage practices, 4) customer service practice including recognizing intoxicated patrons, and 5) rules of the trade on inventory tracking, advertising and store safety. Basic information is presented in an activity that organizes information on a topic into clickable tabs with appropriate graphics. Skills are applied and tested in interactive simulations (e.g., checking IDs) where users apply the skill (e.g., is the ID apparently valid or not) and receive corrective feedback. The entire training is guided by a video host. Trainees are tested at the end of each module and in a final exam and must reach a minimum score to pass the training.

The training was produced in HTML5 software that optimizes the program for a variety of desktop and mobile platforms. Separate versions were created for Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The usability of the RMV training was tested with nine personnel from two retail recreational marijuana stores in Colorado, using semi-structured interviews and observations.

The training took on average over two hours to complete and all participants passed the 50-question final exam. Participants evaluated it favorably on Bangor’s System Usability Scale, with mean ratings above 4.5 on 5-point Likert scales. Minor technical problems and wording changes were made to improve usability.

Currently, retail stores in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are being recruited to implement the RMV training with their personnel. These stores were randomly selected from a sample enrolled in a randomized trial of RMV training effectiveness. Average training time, proportion of personnel trained in each store, changes in self-efficacy for responsible sales practices, and acceptability, usability, and satisfaction with the RMV training will be reported from the implementing stores.

Interventions are needed to prevent retail recreational marijuana market from becoming a source of cannabis for children and contributing to driving under the influence of drugs. Much has been learned from the controlled substance market for alcohol that may transfer to the recreational marijuana market, such as RMV training. States could increase training coverage by requiring and certifying industry personnel in responsible sales practices. Obtaining evidence on successful interventions early in the creation of the recreational marijuana market should help reduce problems before they gain a foothold.

Co-authors on the poster presentation included W. Gill Woodall, PhD, from Klein Buendel, Robert Saltz, PhD, from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, and Sophia Strickfaden, MA, from Klein Buendel.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA038933; David Buller, PI).

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