A major hurdle to marijuana legalization nationwide has been claims that the end of prohibition would lead to an increase in use among young Americans due to greater availability. However, results from a string of undercover operations in two Oregon cities throw doubt on those claims.
“I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth,” explained Larry Wolk, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health on a podcast in October. “[There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven’t seen that pan out.”
On Dec. 19, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) conducted a sting operation, sending undercover (and underage) decoys into 20 different marijuana dispensaries to spot check the businesses on their age verification processes. The state has strict guidelines in place to ensure people under 21 may not enter the cannabis establishments, let alone buy anything inside.
All 20 dispensaries passed the surprise test.
“That our licensed retailers in central Oregon scored 100 percent on refusal to sell marijuana to a minor is a sign that this segment of our regulated industry understands the importance of compliance,” exclaimed Steve Marks, the OLCC’s executive director. “As we continue these checks I hope that these results will be reflected across the state.”
Though it is imperative for legalized states to be proactive in their efforts to limit cannabis exposure to minors not authorized to use the plant medicinally, a study conducted by the state in the years immediately before and after prohibition ended shows youth usage rates, for the most part, mimic national averages.
With consideration for the potential impact legal dispensaries may have on marijuana use among minors, the state is very strict in their penalties for businesses that fail to weed out the youngsters from their legitimate customer base.
According to the State of Oregon:
Sale of marijuana products to anyone under the age of 21 is a violation that for a first offense could result in a 10 to 30 day license suspension, or a fine of $1650, depending on whether or not the sale is intentional. Failure by a marijuana licensee, or its employee, to check a customer’s identification before the attempted purchase of a marijuana product is a violation that could result in a seven (7) day license suspension or a fine more than $1100.
During the sting, the OLCC sends a minor to attempt entry into the dispensary and, if allowed inside, try to purchase cannabis products. The minors are instructed to carry their actual identification and not misrepresent their age to dispensary employees. The OLCC says it will continue running the operation well into 2018 as each licensed dispensary must receive a minimum of one visit annually.
Twenty licensed businesses in Bend and La Pine passed the sting with high-flying colors:
This article was originally published on Marijuana.com.
About Duke London: Used to write about music for XXL, Elevator, Complex, Genius, and a few other outlets. Follow @LongLiveTheDuke on Twitter if you’d like to read way fewer words by me.