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Ask Me Anything: James Yagielo with HempStaff [Wednesday, May 2nd, 11 am MST]


Growers Network is hosting an Ask Me Anything event with James Yagielo from HempStaff on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 at 11 am MST!

James Yagielo founded the company, HempStaff, with his wife in April 2014. At the time, they were eyeing what they thought would be a legal medical marijuana market. Florida voters balked that year, but the HempStaff continued developing their recruiting and staffing outfit, knowing that the national cannabis industry had nowhere to go but up.

But even before Florida’s Amendment 2 failed in 2014, James had heard about a lack of experience and knowledge among the nation’s cannabis stakeholders. HempStaff created a subsidiary for dispensary employee training later that year, which has blossomed as state markets get up and running around the U.S. HempStaff deployed their sessions on the Florida market, and industry insiders in other states enticed them into a more national model.

Now, HempStaff has recruited and placed employees in 12 states and trained more than 3,800 dispensary agents in 18 states.

From HempStaff’s Vendor Corner:

Contact info:

We have James @HempStaff representing on the community! Feel free to @ tag him in your questions to alert him beyond the AMA!

You’re welcome to start posting questions now for @HempStaff and looking forward to seeing the community at the AMA!


Good morning @memberdirectory! Don’t forget we have an AMA today with James with HempStaff at 11 am MST!

I’ll start off with a few pre-questions to get the ball rolling!

  1. Why HempStaff? What need did you see in this industry that made you say “this needs to fixed and I’m the person to do it?”

  2. What type of person is the most likely to approach HempStaff looking for work? Are they always residents of legal cannabis states? Do they submit resumes just like you would with a normal temp agency?


What do you find is the biggest disconnect between employers and job seekers in this industry?

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Following on Hunters question, what are the most common barriers that prevent a potential candidate from being the right candidate? Is education/experience the biggest sticking point?

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What type of dispensary staff training do you find most effective for supporting credible, knowledgeable, and competent retail staff?


Hi Jordan!

To answer your questions:

  1. I had been an IT Recruiter for 15 years at the time that my state, Florida, looked to legalize medical marijunaa in 2014. I attended conferences and events and realized there was a need for recruiters in the cannabis industry - thus HempStaff was born! When Florida did not pass medical marijuana ins 2014, we had already made contact nationwide and took HempStaff to the national level by the end of 2014.

  2. We get all types of people looking for work. From those right out of high school looking for any entry level job, to those looking for a career change, to those that have been working in the cannabis industry already and are looking for a new job or to relocate. We are not a temp agency per say, we only provide permanent employees, not contract or short term employees. We also do not collect resumes until we find a job opening the person is a match for, we feel until we have an opening there is no need for a resume. We ask potential candidates to register on our website When we get a job opening, or have dispensary training in their area, we will send them an email with the details.


That’s a good question - the biggest disconnect is often the salary new business owners are willing to pay their employees. Often we have to advise a new client that a salary they are looking for is to low for what they are looking for and provide them with some numbers of past job placements so they know what salary that job is currently going for in their state and other states, so then can adjust accordingly.


Certainly, experience and education play a big factor. Many people want to become a Master Grower right away, but unless you have worked in a cultivation center for at least a couple years, you most likely do not have the qualifications to do this job. As education and training plays a big factor on getting that interview, especially for entry level. If you have 5 years customer service and dispensary training, but the other candidate has the same experience but no training - the hiring manager will almost certainly call the candidate with training first. However, experience is not everything, as anyone with a clean background can get into the industry, if they are willing to start at the bottom and work their way up.


Hi Todd, as we provide our own Dispensary Training at HempStaff, I am biased, however from our previous students and especially dispensary owners that have taken our training, we have been told that the training we provide is the most in depth of any available in regards to cannabinoids and terpenes as well as focusing on professionalism in this industry.


Does that training come with any sort of certification or way to show other employers you’ve taken the training? I’ve heard of some other training companies out there, but wasn’t sure if there was a “standard” set that dispensaries are looking for (or required by state?)

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That’s great, what topics do you feel are most important to teach, and what do you offer in your 4-hour trainings?


Thanks for the answer! I also wanted to ask the reverse too. Have you noticed any general misunderstandings from job seekers towards employers as well?


Yes, the HempStaff Dispensary Training has a test at the end of the course. If you pass the test with 75% or better then you will receive your HempStaff Certification. You receive and Certification Card as well as an online certification you can print, link to and share online.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for training at this time in most states. Washington and Colorado have created a set of standards separately, but owners have not been particularly receptive to those standards. Other states, like Maryland, require training, but do not specify what it must entail.


I feel knowing the products in a dispensary and how to read labels to match those products with a patient’s need for relief is the most important area, as that is what is all about - helping people feel better.

Below is a general summary of what our course covers, reposted from our website

  1. Laws and what to expect in Marijuana Dispensaries
  2. How Medical Marijuana helps patients and the power of different cannabinoids and terpenes
  3. Medical Marijuana and the symptoms that it can minimize or alleviate
  4. All Medical Marijuana products that may be available and how to direct a patient to use them
  5. How to recommend the appropriate Medical Marijuana dosage
  6. How to greet new patients, interview them, understand their needs and recommend the most appropriate
  7. Medical Marijuana product and dosage to help them have a positive experience
  8. The Endo-cannabinoid system: Learn how this little known system in your body uses the cannabinoids to help alleviate ailments
  9. The main cannabinoids in cannabis (THC, CBD, CBN, etc) and what each can do for your patients
  10. The ailments/diseases medical cannabis can be recommended for and which cannabinoids / terpenes work best for symptoms associated with these diseases
  11. How to manage Point of Sale systems, Inventory Systems and Security in the Cannabis Industry
  12. A Day in the Life of a Dispensary Employee (Budtender)
  13. Our trainer, with years of experience working in a medical marijuana dispensary, and as a dispensary manager, will teach you what you need to know to be a knowledgeable, compassionate and professional Medical Marijuana Employee in this new exciting industry.

Hey Todd,

What issues have you seen with retaining staff at farms. And other than a handsome wage, what is the best way to keep staff turnover low?
In an industry that doesn’t exist in Canada yet, what qualifications/experience do you feel are transferable into this industry?


I think the biggest misconception is that a dispensary is like a head shop. Those days are going away, on the East Coast almost every dispensary looks more like a pharmacy and the West Coast is starting to follow suit as well.

Another thing, especially in a dispensary, that people don’t think about, in a medical only market they will be working with sick people all day, and may form relationships with these people, some of who will not be around much longer due to their illness. So working in a medical marijuana dispensary is not for everyone.


Caring for the terminally infirm is definitely rough work. My fiancee’s done it for some time, it’s not easy.



Where do you foresee the global cannabis industry in 5 years? 10 years?

With that vision in mind, what role will Hemp Staff play in this future industry?

Thank you for your AMA!


Why do you think the owners are not receptive to those standards? Lazy? Perceived idea it’s just too much to keep up with?