According to a new study, Californian cannabis retailers are doing a very good job of preventing minors from entering their stores and buying cannabis.
The researchers wanted to test the cannabis industry’s compliance with identification requirements. So they sent people who appeared to be underage to 50 randomly selected cannabis stores across the state to see if they could enter without showing ID.
All retailers required ID.
The authors of the study, published this month in the Journal of Safety Research, wrote: “Somewhat surprisingly, the ID policy to prevent minors from purchasing cannabis directly from licensed outlets was 100% adhered to. However, this is consistent with what has been observed in two other states, Washington and Colorado.”
If the consistency of compliance surprised the authors, the reason is probably unsurprising: retailers face serious penalties if they break the law, and there’s usually an entry area inside dispensaries where identification is required up front before a person can enter the main part of the store.
“It appears that legal adult cannabis outlets in California avoid selling cannabis to minors. One reason could be a strong incentive for owners and managers of recreational cannabis outlets to avoid being shut down for illegal activity. »
In California, where cannabis was legalized in 2016, anyone who supplies cannabis to a minor faces up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500 for a first offense. Police officers are allowed to use minors as decoys to verify compliance, and failure to comply with identification requirements can result in the loss of a license and additional penalties.
“It appears that licensed recreational cannabis outlets in California verify the age of young customers. Therefore, young people are unlikely to buy cannabis directly from these outlets,” the new study says. “They are more likely to use other sources, such as having an adult buy it for them, getting it from older friends or siblings, and consuming it at parties where drinking cannabis can be shared. »
The authors also said that while these findings represent an important part of a growing body of literature on cannabis policy compliance, they added that future studies and law enforcement agencies “should consider if underage customers attempt to use fake IDs at licensed cannabis outlets and if young people obtain cannabis from illicit dispensaries or social sources. »