ID Compliance by Recreational Marijuana Stores in Two States

ID Compliance by Recreational Marijuana Stores in Two States

The recreational sale of marijuana has begun in ten U.S. states and seems likely to expand to several others. Only state-licensed stores can sell recreational marijuana products and only persons over age 21 who provide a valid state-approved identification (ID) can enter the stores and purchase marijuana. The age and ID regulations are intended to prevent youth gaining access to recreational marijuana, and it is important to investigate whether these age and ID restrictions are actually working.

Research collaborators from Klein Buendel and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, measured compliance with age and ID regulations by state-licensed recreational marijuana stores in two states and reported their findings in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The paper reports assessment of sale refusal rates in a large, diverse sample of stores selling recreational marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. The paper’s analyses describe ID checking behavior by store personnel, estimate refusal rates, and explore factors associated with refusal. 

One hundred seventy-five recreational marijuana stores in Colorado and Washington were visited twice by pseudo-buyer assessment teams in September 2016 to April 2017. A young-adult buyer attempted to enter the store and purchase marijuana without showing a state-approved identification. In the second Colorado visit, a buyer aged 18-20 showed an underage driver’s license and attempted to enter the store and purchase marijuana. No cannabis products were actually purchased.

All stores requested an ID. Stores refused buyers in 73.6% of visits at the entrance, 88.3% cumulative before the counter, and 92.6% cumulative by the time of a purchase attempt. Refusal was lower in Washington than in Colorado but it did not differ by buyer protocol. Overall, compliance with laws restricting marijuana sales to individuals 21 or older with a valid ID was high. The authors suggest that compliance in Washington might be improved by having store personnel check IDs at the store entry. Recreational stores may not be selling marijuana directly to youth, although no information was collected on straw purchases. The measures, methods, analyses, results, conclusions, and limitations are detailed in the publication.

This research was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (DA038933; Dr. David Buller, Principal Investigator). Coauthors include Dr. Gill Woodall and Ms. Mary Buller from KB, and Dr. Robert Saltz from the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

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