Last June, after Colorado’s retail cannabis program had been operating for six months, the state’s marijuana enforcement division ran a series of underage compliance checks to make sure businesses were conducting proper ID checks and refusing to sell to customers under the age of 21. Of the 16 underage operations that were conducted, all of the businesses that were tested passed. Unfortunately, when it came time for Washington to undergo the same compliance check, the Evergreen State wasn’t as fortunate as its rocky mountain sibling.
Despite the fact that various retail cannabis businesses were warned ahead of time by the liquor control board of the upcoming compliance checks, four of 22 stores were caught selling cannabis to underage shoppers. I imagine the head’s up call and the ensuing sting operation went something like this:
In reaction to the results, Washington state Senator Ann Rivers said, “We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great. Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something foolish.”
The visits aren’t over for retail stores — by the end of June, the state intends to do impromptu compliance checks at each of the 138 retail locations that are currently operational. Hopefully, this initial blunder will serve as a wake-up call for other businesses to make sure they’re following state regulations and aren’t breaking any laws. Selling cannabis to minors is a serious offense — it can result in a possible license suspension and fines totaling $2,500, and three strikes within three years can result in the state revoking the business’s license; plus, the employee who sells the product to the underage customer can face potential felony charges.
Let’s not screw this up for both our state and others looking to us as an example of a successful retail cannabis model, okay, Washington? We’re an A+ state and we need to start acting like one!