The growing availability of legal recreational cannabis has resulted in a greater prevalence of impaired driving which is especially risky when marijuana is consumed with alcohol. Some jurisdictions that have legalized the sale of recreational cannabis also have laws that prohibit sales of cannabis to alcohol-intoxicated customers. A new study tests whether training in responsible sales practices can help reduce such sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State.
To test this possibility, researchers used an online responsible marijuana vendor (RMV) training program to train staff members of retail cannabis stores to: recognize signs of alcohol impairment and intoxication, develop skill to refuse sales, and understand the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis, especially in combination with alcohol.
A sample of 150 recreational cannabis stores from the three states were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial. Half the stores were randomly assigned to use the RMV training. Those stores were then post-tested using pseudo-customers who feigned signs of alcohol intoxication.
The results show, however, that training in responsible sales practices alone did not reduce sales to apparently alcohol-intoxicated customers. First, there was no difference in refusal rates between stores that used the RMV training or those that did not. Only 16 of 146 stores refused sales, and, in 11 visits, store staff commented on the buyers’ behavior, or expressed concern or suspicion about buyers, but sold to them anyway.
The researchers concluded that regulatory and policy actions may be needed to increase perceived risk of such sales so that the benefits of training are maximized and public health harms associated with selling cannabis to alcohol-intoxicated customers are reduced. Training alone cannot be considered sufficient.
Source: Buller, David B., W. Gill Woodall, Robert Saltz, Andrew Grayson, Sierra Svendsen, and Gary R. Cutter. “Sales to apparently alcohol-intoxicated customers and online responsible vendor training in recreational cannabis stores in a randomized trial.” International Journal of Drug Policy 83 (2020): 102860.