CHICAGO — Looking to get a job at one of the medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Illinois soon?
A Florida company is offering a training course in how to become a so-called "budtender" this month and in April.
Florida-based HempStaff will be conducting medical marijuana dispensary budtender training" on March 28 and April 11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago O'Hare hotel in suburban Rosemont. Hempstaff tweeted Tuesday that March 28's class is sold out, but there are seats available for April 11's class.
The classes, organizers say, will teach participants how to work behind the counter at a dispensary.
"When my students walk out of class, they're a product specialist," said Rosie Yagielo, HempStaff's co-owner and vice president of training and recruiting. "They can tell you different guidelines for dosage and how cannabis works in the system. At the end of the day, the person behind the counter needs to understand these things."
Justin Breen explains what you'll learn at the event:
Organizers said two classes, each 3½ hours long, will teach students about several topics in the field, including:
• How to recommend the appropriate medical marijuana dosage
• The symptoms medical marijuana can minimize or alleviate
• How to greet new patients, interview them, understand their needs and recommend the most appropriate medical marijuana product and dosage to help them have a positive experience
Yagielo stressed several times that the class is intended only for those planning to work in the legal distribution of medical marijuana.
"Marijuana right now is federally illegal. I need to say that repeatedly in class," she said. "We aren't teaching them anything illegal. We're not going to teach you how to grow. We're only going to teach you how to be a budtender. The last thing a person [in this class] wants to know is what your friends do in your attic or basement."
Each class costs $249 in advance or $260 at the door and can accommodate 70 students, Yagielo said. She expects almost all the students to come from Chicago and its suburbs. Each class will have two teachers, including Brett Frizzell, a budtender from Colorado with five years' experience, Yagielo said.
Yagielo said classes already have taken place in Florida and Massachusetts.
Former Gov. Pat Quinn originally intended to award the state's dispensary licenses before Dec. 31. Although the administration missed that deadline, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday the names of the dispensaries that had been approved, although he put a handful of applications on hold.
Two managers in DoubleTree's catering department confirmed the classes will take place at the hotel, 5460 North River Road.
Yagielo said all students must correctly answer at least 15 of 20 test questions at the end of class to pass the course and earn "HempStaff budtender certification."
"I haven’t had one person who hasn’t passed my class," she said. "They pay attention, and they are focused."
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