Oregon started a minor decoy operation last year testing if dispensaries were selling adult-use cannabis to minors. The results were not great late last year, but the latest minor decoy operation turned out very well with 100% of the Oregon dispensaries turning away minors. Oregon dispensaries can face a 30-day suspension and a $4,950.00 fine for the first offense.
It is a big concern that advertising not appeal to minors and that state legal marijuana is not ending up in the hands of minors, which obviously starts with dispensaries not selling to minors. Colorado has made animal shaped cannabis edibles illegal and Canada is ironing out the national message it wants to send to minors about the legalization of adult-use cannabis. In Oregon, minors would be accompanied by an adult official state inspector for the decoy operations.
Steve Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC, expressed dismay at the early failures in January. “These overall results are unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “This is a wake-up call to our licensed retailers. Oregonians have entrusted you with a responsibility that includes NOT selling marijuana to minors.”
It seems that the wake-up call has worked. In five minor decoy operations conducted since January 24, all 43 dispensaries passed the checks. The OLCC sends those under the age of 21 to buy cannabis with their actual IDs under the supervision of a commission inspector. Regulators had planned to visit every licensed retailer over the course of the year, but stepped up the checks after the industry’s early spotty compliance rate.
Some in the industry have expressed skepticism that increasing penalties would be effective in combating sales to minors. “Increasing the penalty on a merchant isn’t going to stop an employee who thinks he’s doing someone a favor by allowing them to buy when they’re 19 or 20 years old,” Don Morse, chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, told the Portland Business Journal.
As states’ marijuana programs gain more traction, regulatory agencies are likely to employ strategies similar to how they regulate the alcohol industry when it comes to minors. Do you feel like states are doing a good enough of a job making sure marijuana stays out of the hands of minors?