A new study coming out of California has revealed that marijuana retailers in the state are doing a bang-up job at keeping underage people away from their merchandise. One of the major arguments against legalizing cannabis has been that it would increase youth access to the controversial drug and lead to an explosion of drug abuse and criminal activity.
To see whether or not California’s cannabis industry was compliant with state ID requirements, researchers sent 50 fresh-faced people to random cannabis dispensaries across the state. Each of the marijuana shops asked for an ID before admitting the decoys.
The study’s authors said that while the 100% compliance was somewhat surprising, it is in line with what has been seen in Colorado and Washington State. This compliance is most likely due to the penalties cannabis retailers face if they sell their products to underage people.
For starters, any Californian who provides marijuana to an underage individual faces a maximum fine of $500 and up to six months in jail for a first offense. Furthermore, the state allows police officers to test compliance to ID requirements using minors as decoys. Retailers who don’t comply can lose their retail license and face other penalties.
Published in the “Journal of Safety Research,” study findings says that since underage individuals don’t appear to be purchasing marijuana from legal outlets, it is likely they are getting it from other sources. This includes older siblings and friends, asking adults to obtain the drug on their behalf, or at parties where marijuana is being used and shared among the partygoers.
Although study authors acknowledged that their study provides evidence of policy compliance by cannabis retailers, they encouraged enforcement agencies and future studies to investigate the use of fake IDs at legal retailers by minors, and whether or not they were obtaining cannabis from social sources or illicit dispensaries.
This study is significant in two ways. First, it shows that current marijuana policies are effective at preventing youth access and second, that a legal, regulated marijuana market for adults is a much better alternative to total prohibition. It is consistent with results from several previous studies and reports.
One recent report from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Education and Regulation (CPEAR) highlighted studies that proved that legalization did not lead to increased youth marijuana use rates.
One federally funded study also showed that 2021 saw a significant reduction in youth cannabis use while the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that cannabis use among the youth dropped in 2020.
Such research findings provide more vindication for the entire cannabis industry, including companies such as American Cannabis Partners, regarding the ability of legalization to curb underage marijuana access or use.
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