Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana on January 1, regulators and local police conducting sting operations to check state dispensaries for marijuana sales to minors have come up with zero cases of such sales.
Reported by the Colorado Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division Thursday, 20 undercover minors attempted to buy marijuana from both retail and medical dispensaries in Denver and Pueblo with all 20 being denied sale.
One of the most popular arguments against legalizing recreational marijuana is the slippery slope of having cannabis more readily available to minors who might seek out pot at a clinic or dispensary. This should empirically put that argument to rest – surely some isolated cases may pop up in the future, but 100% compliance with underage sales laws is a mark of pride for industry players and regulators alike.
While the earned praise from the state regulatory agency is all well and good, the sample size of the decoy operations was relatively small. It will still be interesting to see how comprehensive annual reports stand up to annual alcohol sales to minors in the state of Colorado.
According to the 2013 Colorado State Report submitted to Congress by Stopalcoholabuse.gov, in 2011 nearly 15% of Colorado alcohol retailers, 280 of 1,867, failed their compliance check. Quite a stark contrast.
Colorado marijuana businesses caught selling to a minor may face a suspension and fines per violation, a $100,000 fine in lieu of a suspension, or a complete revocation of their license.
However, penalties for Colorado businesses found selling alcohol to minors are much softer than those for marijuana. Revocation of a business’ license is not even considered until the 4th offense – either revocation or a 45-day suspension. A 15-day suspension or fine in lieu are levied for the 1st offense, although sometimes businesses get away with just a warning.
In the likely event that marijuana sales to minors continue to be nonexistent to negligible, perhaps the fines and regulations around alcohol and marijuana sales to minors should be swapped, if not at the very least reworked.
Definitely not unnoticed, the recent upstanding work of businesses, security, and budtenders in Colorado is a large factor in continuing to legitimize the recreational marijuana movement.
Image credit – AP