Marijuana Dispensaries Not Selling To Minors, Study Finds

Marijuana Dispensaries Not Selling To Minors, Study Finds

Underage weed-seekers, take note: licensed marijuana retailers are vigilant when it comes to laws prohibiting the sale of cannabis to minors. Regulatory officials, take note: the system appears to be working.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, went like this: researchers working undercover went into 175 marijuana retailers in Colorado and Washington State — the first two states to legalize recreational pot in 2012. From September 2016 to April 2017, the researchers, aged 18-20, would show their IDs, which indicated they were under the legal age to buy weed.

The results of the study show that the states are very compliant with state laws. Colorado’s marijuana retail employees refused sales to underage individuals 92.6 percent of the time, topping the stats from Washington. There, retail staff declined underage transactions 86.6 percent of the time. While not as impressive as the numbers from Colorado, almost 90 percent is still a solid figure. Reports noted that refusal rates exceeded those of alcohol.

Other states have executed compliance checks of their own. California, Colorado and New Mexico conducted studies of their own, and the results were similar to those of Washington and Colorado. Researchers attribute the high compliance rate to several factors. One, compliance checks issued penalties for those retailers that failed. Two, licenses are valuable (and in some cases very limited), and potential revenue is lucrative. Three, appearance matters. Recreational marijuana retailers want to avoid any impression that they sell to minors with the end goal to minimize possible federal scrutiny and control.

In the end, preventing minors from obtaining cannabis or cannabinoid-containing products was on the radar way before legalization happened. The good news is that several studies show that legalizing weed doesn’t increase the usage rate in teens — and in some cases, the teen usage rate drops after legalization.

About Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on, and