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Compliance with ID rules in recreational cannabis stores

December 22, 2019

A new study by collaborators at Klein Buendel, Inc. and the Prevention Research Center finds that recreational cannabis stores in Colorado and Washington state, both of which legalized adult recreational use in 2012, show high levels of compliance with rules preventing underage purchase of cannabis. The study also shows that there is more than can be done to reach full compliance.

Between September 2016 and April 2017, 175 recreational cannabis stores in Colorado and Washington State were visited by "pseudo-buyers." The protocols were as follows:
  • Each store in each state was visited twice.

  • An observer entered the store first to scan the store's environment and observe the buyers' purchase behavior.

  • On each of these visits in Washington, a young-adult buyer attempted to enter the store and purchase cannabis without showing a state-approved ID (a valid driver's license).

  • The same protocol was used on the first visit in Colorado, while in a second Colorado visit, an 18-20 year old buyer showed an underage driver's license and attempted to enter the store to purchase cannabis.
The results show:
  • All stores across the two states requested an ID.

  • Stores refused buyers in 73.6% of visits at the entrance, 88.3% cumulative before the counter, and 92.6% by the time of a purchase attempt.

  • Refusal was lower in Washington State than in Colorado (at entry, 53.1%; before the counter, 80.5%; and at purchase attempt, 86.6%), but refusal did not differ by buyer protocol.
Says PIRE Co-Author Dr. Robert Saltz: "Compliance with laws restricting cannabis sales to individuals 21 or older with a valid ID was high and higher than we see for alcohol sales. Whether this reflects the newness of the industry or not will be determined by future compliance checks. Compliance in Washington state might be improved by having store personnel check IDs at the store entry."
-end-
Source: Buller, David B., W. Gill Woodall, Robert Saltz, and Mary Klein Buller. "Compliance With Personal ID Regulations by Recreational Marijuana Stores in Two US States." Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 80, no. 6 (2019): 679-686.

PIRE is an independent, nonprofit organization merging scientific knowledge and proven practice to create solutions that improve the health, safety and well-being of individuals, communities, and nations around the world. http://www.pire.org

The Prevention Research Center (PRC) of PIRE is one of 16 centers sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), of the National Institutes of Health, and is the only one that specializes in prevention. PRC's focus is on conducting research to better understand the social and physical environments that influence individual behavior that lead to alcohol and drug misuse. http://www.prev.org

The Resource Link for Community Action provides information and practical guidance to state and community agencies and organizations, policy makers, and members of the public who are interested in combating alcohol and other drug abuse and misuse. https://prev.org/community-action/

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

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