Each of the dispensaries refused to sell marijuana to minors in the state’s latest round of decoy operations.
Marijuana dispensaries in Oregon are successfully keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, suggest the most recent random minor decoy operations performed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). In the latest round of operations targeting 43 dispensaries in Portland, Bend, and Salem, all refused to sell marijuana to minors.
Oregon started implementing minor decoy operations last year to see if its recreational dispensaries were selling marijuana, legally limited to adults aged 21 years and older, to minors. In the operations, the OLCC sends someone under the age of 21 into to dispensary try to buy cannabis with their actual IDs under the supervision of a commission inspector.
Initially, the failure rate was too high, particularly in Portland. During decoy operations in December 2017, the statewide compliance was 81 percent. Cannabis stores improved slightly to an 89 percent compliance rate during operations conducted January 2018.
“These overall results are unacceptable,” said Steve Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC, after January’s operations. “This is a wake-up call to our licensed retailers. Oregonians have entrusted you with a responsibility that includes NOT selling marijuana to minors.”
As of January 26th, the OLCC tripled the penalties for failure on compliance. Dispensaries that are found to sell cannabis to minors, either willingly or from failing to check IDs, are subject to a 30-day suspension or $4,950 fine for a first-time offense. Additional offenses are subject to increasing penalties.
The latest decoy operations conducted by OLCC, in which 100 percent of the tested retailers refused to sell to minors, indicates that dispensaries are doing a better job at making sure marijuana stays out of the hands of minors.
“These results show an improvement, but there is no tolerance for marijuana sales to anyone under 21 years old,” said Marks. “We’ve increased the penalties for retailers that sell to minors, so our expectation is for the industry to be vigilant about compliance.”
Some dispensaries that had failed tests in the past have taken additional measures to ensure employees comply with state law. Herbal Remedies, a Salem dispensary that failed a check in December, fired the employee who sold cannabis to the minor and has started to require its employees to enter a customer’s driver’s license into a computer.
Marijuana Legalization and Minors
Opponents of marijuana legalization commonly voice concerns over its potential impact on the rate of use among adolescents. Research, however, indicates that as cannabis legalization has expanded in the United States, marijuana use by teens has fallen.
Oregon is one of nine U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana and one of 29 states to legalize medical marijuana. While more than half of U.S. states legalizing marijuana in some capacity, teen cannabis use in the U.S. is at a 22-year low.
Several studies analyzing the impact of legalization and its impact on teens have found that the passing of cannabis laws does not increase use by teens. Legalization not only doesn’t encourage teen use, but it also doesn’t mean easier access of marijuana for teens.