The Global Cannabis Industry: A Budding Learning Frontier

  • 5 Min Read

It's important that cannabis companies invest in learning and development to keep up with a fast-growing industry.

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second nation in the world and the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis. With other countries and many US states now aggressively moving to legalize both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis use, the global cannabis market is set to hit all-new highs and is expected to mushroom in size from US$10.3 billion in 2018 to US$39.4 billion in 2023. To cope with this growth, cannabis companies will need to cultivate a well-trained crop of talent to help them manage this budding business and invest in external-facing cannabis education. By investing in modern learning tools and strategies, these companies can do both effectively.

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The birth of a brand-new industry drives talent demand

Cannabis-related companies are expected to create more than a quarter-million jobs by 2020. This is more jobs than what’s expected to be created by any of the manufacturing, utilities, or government sectors in the same time frame. According to research by ZipRecruiter, year over year, job posts in the cannabis industry grew by 445% in 2017, outpacing both technology and healthcare, with job descriptions calling for people with a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and experience.

Common jobs in the cannabis industry include growers, cultivation site managers, trimmers, cannabis chefs, extractors, lab technicians, packagers, budtenders, delivery drivers, compliance directors, and security guards. There is also growing demand for senior leadership expertise, marketing and sales professionals, and quality assurance experts. It is expected that both jobs and salaries will continue to rise as the wave of legalization increases and the flow of capital grows.

Enabling external-facing recreational and medical education

As more countries and states move to legalize recreational and medicinal use, the number of dispensaries and their revenue is expected to soar globally. Sales in 2018 are expected to increase by roughly 50% compared with last year, on track to hit US$10 billion, and retail sales of cannabis are expected to top US$20 billion by 2022. And as demand for cannabis continues to grow, cannabis companies will increasingly need to factor in external-facing education and enablement in their learning and development strategies.

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In particular, cannabis companies will need to leverage learning to enable their retail partners, ensuring dispensary operators are armed with the right retail best practices and training, as well as the latest legislative and compliance-related information. Most provincial and state jurisdictions mandate training for cannabis retail staff, including dispensary owners, managers, cashiers, and security personnel with training focused on prevention of sale to minors, intoxication detection, and restrictions surrounding the provision of information that could be construed as medical advice. Learning strategies for the retail sector must not only enable providers to deliver timely, up-to-date, and accurate information to retail partners, but should also be aligned with the way today’s retail employees want to learn—incorporating modern learning tools and strategies such as situational/scenario-based learning, video learning, social and collaborative learning, and just-in-time learning that’s delivered in bite-sized, easily consumable chunks at the point of need. In addition, providers should leverage modern learning strategies like Social Assessment™ to improve the customer experience by helping frontline retail staff develop key customer-facing skills.

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Cannabis companies should also look to leverage those kinds of tools and strategies to more effectively enable the medical community. By using modern learning to establish better cannabis awareness and understanding across sectors and among clinics and healthcare practitioners, companies can facilitate better care for patients through more data-driven approaches to diagnosis and to treating chronic illnesses with medical cannabis. Training for healthcare professionals around medical marijuana ranges from understanding the endocannabinoid system, treatment, and clinical options to understanding the effect of endocannabinoids on physiologic systems as well as synthetic cannabinoids and cannabinoid-opioid interactions. Effective modern learning strategies for this part of the market could include providing engaging and more personalized learning experiences, serving up learning at the point of need, opportunities for professional collaboration, and micro-credentialing.

Learn how the American Nurses Association is improving education for nurses

Cannabis consumer education represents yet another significant learning opportunity for the industry. Consumer-facing education (especially for first-time users) is critical in achieving a perception shift within the consumer marketplace. Learning aimed at consumers might range from broad-based consumer awareness campaigns around the ins and outs of safe cannabis consumption to consumer information on strains and the products best suited to an individual’s medical needs or lifestyle. Consumer education will be a key area for learning and development emphases across the entire cannabis market as it grows and evolves. To that end, having the ability to effectively leverage modern learning tools that allow organizations to easily create, curate, and distribute engaging learning content around such topics on demand could help cannabis companies in their efforts to bolster consumer knowledge, close information gaps, ensure public safety, and lay the groundwork for informed medical decisions.

Modern learning for agile and effective cannabis education

Given the relative immaturity of the cannabis industry and the rate of change it’s experiencing, it’s vital that cannabis companies invest in learning and development for their employees and stakeholders, as well as in education to better enable retail partners, medical professionals, and consumers. Coordinated, timely learning on all fronts will help overcome stigmas, erase misconceptions, keep cannabis companies on the right side of regulatory compliance, and guide safe and responsible usage of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Modern, mobile-enabled learning experiences, which are capable of providing highly personalized, adaptive learning to people on demand, are critical for delivering learning that’s agile enough to keep up with this fertile and fast-growing industry. In addition to allowing the industry’s flourishing workforce to quickly expand its skills, knowledge, and capacity to stay abreast of legislative and regulatory changes, they can be key for helping cannabis companies drive greater cannabis awareness and understanding.

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