Memo to underage Colorado cannabis consumers: Don’t even try buying your weed a regulated marijuana retailer. You’re going to walk out of the establishment red-faced and empty-handed.
The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division issued the results of its 2017 underage compliance testing and reported that 95 percent of the retailers passed. The agency’s operation sent underage operatives into 264 marijuana stores across the state attempting to buy cannabis products. Of those interactions, only 13 resulted in a purchase. In Colorado, and other legal marijuana states, only adults 21 years and older with a valid ID can buy cannabis in regulated stores.
“While we’re pleased that the percentage of licensees passing underage compliance checks increased from 2016, that number still isn’t good enough,” said Jim Burack, MED Director. But Burack insists that 95% “still isn’t good enough.”
“We’ll continue to increase the frequency of our enforcement efforts and further educate marijuana licensees on their operational requirements vital to protecting public health and safety,” Burack said. “Importantly, business licenses are subject to discipline, including revocation, if management is not diligent about underage enforcement and associated employee training.”
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Other legal states have experienced similar results. After a subpar initial test in Oregon, officials say they have made improvements in compliance. The punishment — fines and store closures — are simply not worth the risk for retailers who spent large sums of money for the business.
“The risks for non-compliance are significant,” said Kristi Kelly of the Marijuana Industry Group. “It’s no surprise that the legal licensees and employees in this state place a priority on making sure that legal cannabis stays in the hands of legal buyers,” Kelly told Denver’s CBS4.
For context, 89 percent of liquor stores passed underage compliance tests for alcohol and 94 percent of stores passed underage compliance tests for tobacco, according to CBS4.