'This is a wake-up call': 16 of 66 Oregon cannabis retailers failed to check ID in sting
Note: An earlier version of this story used a photograph of a sign proclaiming the legal age for cannabis purchase and possession in Oregon. However, the sign in that photo is posted outside a business NOT subject to this round of inspections in December. The photo on this story has been updated to instead depict Oregon's universal warning symbol for cannabis products. Oregon state law only allows sales by and purchases from licensed dispensaries, made by adults age 21 and over. Travel over state lines with Oregon cannabis products is against the laws of Northwest states and the federal government. Federal law does not recognize legal medicinal or recreational marijuana.
EUGENE, Ore. - Three of the 19 licensed marijuana retailers in Eugene and Springfield checked by state inspectors in December failed to adequately prevent the sale of cannabis to a minor, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says.
Statewide, 16 of the 66 retailers visited by a minor volunteer working with the state failed to compliance check.
“These overall results are unacceptable,” said Steve Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC. “One of the basic tenets of Measure 91 is the protection of children by discouraging their use of marijuana. Oregonians who voted for legalizing recreational marijuana implicitly told the cannabis industry to abide by public safety laws. Clearly they’re not, and we need to continue this type of enforcement activity."
Here's how the operation works, according to OLCC.
During the sales checks, a minor volunteer attempts to enter a licensed marijuana retailer and/or purchase marijuana products from a licensed business to see if staff are checking ID’s correctly and refusing entry to anyone under 21. Commission inspectors supervise the minor volunteers. The volunteers carry their own legal ID that identifies them as under 21 and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage the sale of marijuana. The Oregon Driver license for a minor carries a red border around the picture with the words “Under 21 until” followed by the date of his/her 21st birthday.
The operation is modeled on a similar one used to check compliance preventing alcohol sales to minors.
“This is a wake-up call to our licensed retailers," Marks said. "Oregonians have entrusted you with a responsibility that includes NOT selling marijuana to minors. By doing so you tarnish the cannabis industry and put your business in jeopardy."
OLCC offers free training on how to check idnetification and identify fake ID cards.
Oregon voters approved Measure 91 in 2014, creating the state's legal recreational cannabis market.
The measure modeled enforcement and fines on existing rules for alcohol sales, according to OLCC.
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.
The state offered this account of the operation:
On December 20, 2017, in the Eugene-Springfield area, marijuana inspectors visited 19 licensed marijuana retailers, and three (3) failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 84%
On December 21, 2017, in the Keizer-Salem area, marijuana inspectors visited 23 licensed marijuana retailers, and five (5) failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 78%
On December 21, 2017, in Portland, marijuana inspectors visited seven (7) licensed marijuana retailers, and four (4) failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 43%
On December 28, 2017, in Central Oregon, marijuana inspectors visited five (5) licensed marijuana retailers, and none (0) failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 100%
On December 29, 2017, in Southern Oregon, marijuana inspectors visited 12 licensed marijuana retailers, and four (4) failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 67%
Retraction Note: The photo we used in a prior version of this article displayed a dispensary called Herbal Choices. We want to notify our viewers that Herbal Choices was not notified that they failed an inspection from marijuana inspectors.