Although the deadline for submitting applications to operate medical-marijuana dispensaries in Ohio isn't until Friday, Nov. 17, a Florida company already is offering training for people who want to work in those stores.
HempStaff, which is described on the firm's website as the industry leader in medical-marijuana recruiting and dispensary training, will offer a four-hour course May 19 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Columbus -- Worthington hotel on Hutchinson Avenue that would allow graduates to consider themselves "budtenders."
Tickets for the course are being sold at hempstaff.com.
Budtenders are the face of the dispensary and the person with whom patients interact with on a daily basis, according to the website.
They are responsible for greeting patients, orienting them about strains and use, methods of delivery and dosage.
A budtender salary usually starts at $12 to $15 per hour, according to the website.
Yagielo said he and his wife, Rose, founded HempStaff in April 2014 when it appeared medical marijuana would be legalized in Florida. The initiative failed that year but a similar effort was approved in 2016.
Yagielo said he has been involved in employment recruiting for almost 20 years since he finished college and his wife does corporate training for hotels and the hospitality industry, so they thought their expertise would work well in filling jobs once medical marijuana operations were up and running.
States do not regulate, certify or oversee such businesses as HempStaff that offer training in the new field, he said.
"We have tried to get certified, recommended by states," he said. "So far none of the states have gone through with it. We, unfortunately, aren't regulated or certified by any state, although we would be more than willing to do so."
"We do have a very specific rule regarding employee training and essentially we do require the submission and approval of training prior to any presentation of the intended training," said Cameron McNamee, director of policy and communications for the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
It is the dispensary licensee that is responsible for making certain any employees are trained according to the law that approved medical marijuana, McNamee said.
"That doesn't mean they couldn't outsource it," he said.
And that is where such operations as HempStaff, the Cannabis Training Institute, the Cannabis Training University and others come in.
"We have all different types of people," Yagielo said. "We have potential owners. ... We also have doctors who come to our class, pharmacists, patients interested in learning more."
When the dispensary-application period closes, McNamee said, state officials will use a scoring system to determine who will be awarded the licenses. How long that will take depends on the number of applications received, he said.
Legislation for Ohio's medical-marijuana program sets a deadline of Sept. 8, 2018, by which it will be operational, including not only the dispensaries but also cultivation operations. The law allots five dispensaries for Franklin County.
In Columbus, lacking anything specific about such operations in the zoning code, officials have decided dispensaries will be allowed in commercial districts. As of Nov. 9, according to Anthony J. Celebrezze, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services, more than 40 zoning forms for potential dispensary sites had been accepted.
Celebrezze said last month the applications tend to be in commercial areas, such as Bethel Road in northwest Columbus, Morse and East Dublin-Granville roads in Northland and High Street, both in the Clintonville neighborhood and in south Columbus.
He also said that when the state awarded licenses for the smaller of two classifications of cultivation operations -- those with up to 3,000 square feet of growing area -- one site was chosen in Columbus, at 872 N. 20th St. east of downtown.