Study Finds Colorado Cannabis Shops Not Selling to Minors

Published on November 3, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

A new peer-reviewed study has found that age restrictions in legal cannabis states are effectively keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and minors. Newly published data in the current issue of the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs found that “compliance with laws restricting marijuana sales to individuals age 21 years or older with a valid ID was extremely high and possibly higher than compliance with restrictions on alcohol sales.”

Investigators from California, Colorado, and even New Mexico assessed whether licensed retail cannabis facilities in Colorado would sell to pseudo-underage buyers who failed to show proof of age.

Researchers found that underage compliance “was extremely high and possibly higher than compliance with restrictions on alcohol sales.”

They concluded that “the retail market at present may not be a direct source of marijuana for underage individuals.”

In the report, researchers found that all outlets in this study asked the buyer to show an ID when walking into the establishment. Only one of those outlets was willing to sell cannabis to the pseudo-underage buyer after the buyer did not produce an ID when asked (95 percent).

The methodology used for this study is easy to follow, as state-licensed retail marijuana outlets (n=20) in Colorado were included in the sample. Underage assessment teams of a buyer and an observer visited each dispensary once between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on four weekdays in August 2015.

During the assessment, the observer entered first, performing an “unobtrusive environmental scan,” and then would record the outcome of the purchase attempt. The buyer attempted to enter the outlet and purchase a cannabis product.

If they were asked for an ID, the buyer did not present one. If the clerk then offered to sell cannabis, the buyer declined, claiming they had insufficient cash, and would depart the store.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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