Illinois State Cannabis Certification Course
As of January 1, 2020, both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Illinois.
Illinois has taken quick and effective steps to implement a required “Responsible Vendor” Compliance Training to ensure compliance in sales and handling of cannabis in the state’s cannabis industry.
It is helpful to explore the complex and distinct structure of Illinois medical and recreational marijuana policies in the following section before taking a closer look at this state’s required “Responsible Vendor” training for cannabis industry employees, managers, and owners.
“Responsible Vendor” providers deliver important training to the cannabis industry workers on:
- How to properly check purchaser identification
- State laws and rules relating to dispensing cannabis
- How to identify signs of impairment, physiological effects of cannabis
- Workplace security and safety measures
- Health concerns related to cannabis consumption
The “Responsible Vendor” compliance training requirements are based on similar training required of alcohol servers but are tailored to the Illinois cannabis regulatory structure.
All medical cannabis dispensing agents currently working in Illinois must receive training from an approved “Responsible Vendor” training provider by November 30, 2019. This is to ensure they have been trained before adult-use sales begin on January 1, 2020.
Any newly hired dispensary agents also will be required to receive training from an approved vendor within 90 days of their hire date. In addition, all dispensary agents must receive the training annually to renew their license to continue working in the state’s cannabis industry.
Illinois Medical & Recreational Marijuana Policies
Medical marijuana was legalized in 2015, and there are now numerous dispensaries in the state. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act of 2013 legalized medical cannabis with highly regulated industry laws.
The law became effective on January 1, 2014, but many dispensaries in the state’s cannabis industry were not fully functional until the beginning of 2015.
The Medical Cannabis Patient Program (or MCPP) started as a pilot program, but changes to this program on August 12, 2019, in the form of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act made this program permanent.
The list of qualifying conditions is similar to many other states, with the recent addition of more debilitating medical conditions to the original list in the pilot MCPP. These conditions include:
- Chronic Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS)
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- Neuro-Bechet’s Autoimmune Disease
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (or PKD)
- Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome
- Ulcerative Colitis
Like most states, the patient must have a bonafide relationship with the physician, meaning that they assess and discuss the debilitating condition on an ongoing basis.
Patients can buy up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days, but if the medical condition requires a greater amount, the patient can submit a waiver accompanied by a physician’s written certification form that 2.5 ounces for a two-week period are insufficient for treating the symptoms.
Patients can also grow up to five (5) plants effective January 1, 2020.
MCPP patients can register up to three designated caregivers, and caregivers must also register for identification. Both patients and caregivers can apply for one-, two- or three-year registry cards.
Caregivers are permitted to pick up cannabis orders at a dispensary for patients.
Persons under 21 cannot use smokable forms of cannabis; they are limited to edibles and tinctures. Adults ages 21 and older can smoke, vape, consume edibles or use tinctures.
Veterans with qualifying conditions may seek the care of a non-VA physician and obtain a waiver to increase the supply of medical cannabis for a 14-day period; this cannabis-focused treatment can be in addition to the medical care received at a VA health care facility.
The physician will complete a certification form and an in-person office visit within 90-days of the date of the waiver submission.
An interesting feature of Illinois medical cannabis policy is the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (or OAPP) established through the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018. On August 28, 2018, Illinois added OAPP to the MCPP with the mission of reducing opioid-related deaths.
The program was launched on January 31, 2019.
Registered patients can obtain 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days. Once a patient is approved for this program, they must register in the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System (or ICTS) within 30 days of receiving the physician’s certification.
Illinois residents can possess 30 grams (just over an ounce). The limit for concentrates is 5 grams and, edibles and tinctures have a maximum of 500 milligrams of Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC).
Visitors to the state can purchase cannabis and cannabis-infused products, but they are limited to half of these amounts that are legally allowed for state residents.
Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use after Governor J.B. Pritzker in June signed the bill into law that takes effect today.
The “Illinois Policy” website provides information about legal amounts and other relevant information (click here to read more). But you will see that no cultivation is allowed by recreational users.
Residents and visitors can purchase recreational cannabis as of January 1, 2020. Medical cannabis dispensaries will be the only establishments selling marijuana until late 2020 when adult-use cannabis dispensaries will start to operate.
Until then, recreational users are served at medical cannabis dispensaries.
Patients and recreational users can expect significant taxes on their dispensary purchases. Cannabis flowers or products with less than 35% Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) have a 10% sales tax; cannabis-infused products like edibles have a 20% tax.
Cities and counties can levy additional local sales taxes, also there is also a 7% gross receipts tax when cultivators sell to cannabis dispensaries.
Responsible Vendor Training Requirement
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (or IDFPR), Division of Professional Regulation, Cannabis Enforcement Section requires all dispensary employees (including owners, managers, employees, and agents) to complete the “Responsible Vendor” training.
This includes anyone involved in the sales of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as per Section 10 of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act.
IDFPR approved businesses as “Responsible Vendors” authorized to provide mandatory health and safety training to cannabis dispensary agents often referred to as “Budtenders.”
They provide health and safety training to the industry workers. These vendors represent a mix of in-state and out-of-state companies that will provide online and in-person training.
For example, approved “Responsible Vendor” training providers such as Elevated Education offer in-person and live online training sessions.
In Elevated Education’s “Responsible Vendor” training it includes content on state laws and rules relating to dispensing cannabis, purchaser verification process, identifying signs of impairment, security measures, and health considerations related to cannabis consumption.
These topics are required according to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The course is a minimum of two (2) hours. Responsible Vendor training is modeled after Illinois alcohol server training, but it reflects state cannabis policies and procedures.
All dispensary employees must complete the training by November 30, 2019, to ensure compliance by January 1, 2020, when legal sales begin. Any new hires will have 90 days within hiring to complete the training. Employees must renew their certification annually.
The vendor offering the training must provide proof of completion to the cannabis business, and the dispensary will keep this certificate on file for each staff member.
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