Portland, OR – During the winter holiday season the Oregon Liquor Control Commission conducted additional minor decoy operations across Oregon, and found that some licensed marijuana retailers are selling marijuana products to minors.
- On Dec. 20, 2017, in the Eugene-Springfield area, marijuana inspectors visited 19 licensed marijuana retailers, and three failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 84%
- On Dec. 21, 2017, in the Keizer-Salem area, marijuana inspectors visited 23 licensed marijuana retailers, and five failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 78%
- On Dec. 21, 2017, in Portland, marijuana inspectors visited seven (7) licensed marijuana retailers, and four failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 43%
- On Dec. 28, 2017, in Central Oregon, marijuana inspectors visited five (5) licensed marijuana retailers, and none failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 100%
- On Dec. 29, 2017, in Southern Oregon, marijuana inspectors visited 12 licensed marijuana retailers, and four failed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer. Compliance rate: 67%
Steve Marks, Executive Director, Oregon Liquor Control Commission
“These overall results are unacceptable,” said Steve Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC. “One of the basic tenets of Measure 91 is the protection of children by discouraging their use of marijuana. Oregonians who voted for legalizing recreational marijuana implicitly told the cannabis industry to abide by public safety laws. Clearly they’re not, and we need to continue this type of enforcement activity.”
In Washington State, by contrast, the cannabis retailer no-sales-to-minors compliance rate is 92 percent. Brian Smith, spokesperson for the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, said the compliance rate is about equal to the state’s most responsible alcohol retailers.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission conducts the decoy operations to make sure marijuana licensees are complying with state laws and OLCC regulations to keep minors from entering licensed retail businesses to purchase marijuana products.
License Suspensions & Fines
Sale of marijuana products to anyone under the age of 21 in Oregon is a violation that for a first offense could result in a 10 to 30 day license suspension, or a fine of $1,650, depending on whether or not the sale is intentional. Failure by a marijuana licensee, or its employee, to check a customer’s identification before the attempted purchase of a marijuana product is a violation that could result in a seven-day license suspension or a fine more than $1,100.
The framework for regulating recreational marijuana was established in Oregon’s Measure 91, which was approved by voters in 2014, using the OLCC alcohol regulatory structure. The penalties for marijuana licensees’ violations were established based on the criteria used for penalizing alcohol licensees.
‘This Is a Wake-Up Call to Retailers’
During the sales checks, a minor volunteer attempts to enter a licensed marijuana retailer and/or purchase marijuana products from a licensed business to see if staff are checking ID’s correctly and refusing entry to anyone under 21. Commission inspectors supervise the minor volunteers. The volunteers carry their own legal ID that identifies them as under 21 and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage the sale of cannabis. The Oregon Driver license for a minor carries a red border around the picture with the words “Under 21 until” followed by the date of his/her 21st birthday.
The OLCC tests licensed marijuana businesses throughout the year, with each licensed retailer receiving a minimum of one visit per year. The OLCC offers a free training course on how to check ID’s and identify false identification.
“This is a wake-up call to our licensed retailers. Oregonians have entrusted you with a responsibility that includes NOT selling marijuana to minors. By doing so you tarnish the cannabis industry and put your business in jeopardy,” said Marks.