If younger Coloradans are getting their hands on marijuana since the state allowed it to be sold to adults on Jan. 1, they’re apparently not getting it from state-licensed retail stores.
Over the past six months, regulators from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division have sent underage customers into 20 marijuana retail stores in Denver and Pueblo to attempt to buy pot. All of them were turned away.
Colorado’s new law allows residents 21 and older to buy up to an ounce of marijuana per transaction at state-licensed stores, and out of town adults to buy up to a quarter of an ounce. Just as in a liquor store, customers are required to show ID at the time of purchase.
Critics of the new law have said it would make marijuana more available to young people but at least in these instances it seems to have restricted access by regulating sales, as the legalization law’s proponents have claimed it would.
“Black market operators don’t check IDs,” Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told the Huffington Post. “The industry will continue to work with the community to prevent underage use. Last November, we endorsed and helped fund and run the campaign to increase taxes on marijuana sales precisely to help promote public safety and prevent underage use. We are happy to see that enforcement is happening, and that the industry is compliant.”
The use of underage operatives is similar to stings conducted by liquor enforcement officers on bars and taverns. The compliance checks have been underway since sales began in January, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
“It is imperative that we keep marijuana out of the hands of kids,” said Department of Revenue director Barbara Brohl, in a statement. “These results show that strong efforts are being made by the [Marijuana Enforcement Division] and the marijuana business licensees to do just that.”
Had any of the stores sold to the undercover youths, they may have faced losing their licenses either permanently or temporarily, and a fine of up to $100,000.
As of June 3, there were 208 licensed recreational marijuana stores in Colorado, most of them in Denver.
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