California law prohibits children (under 21) from possessing, using, or buying cannabis. Marketing for marijuana must be tailored in a such a way that it’s less likely to reach them. Proposition 64 (California’s recreational marijuana law) requires a default buffer to keep dispensaries at least 600 feet away from schools, day cares, and youth centers; local ordinances be even more stringent in their requirements. Yet pot shops apparently aren’t doing a great job of keeping cannabis away from kids, according to new research.
A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics took a look at how well state regulations intended to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors have been working. The analysis examined the practices of 700 licensed marijuana dispensaries in the state. Researchers discovered that kids can be exposed to both marketing and products, in spite of the restrictions on both.
Dispensaries are required by law to screen out customers who are underage. Many do this with blatant signage, having a checkpoint with mandatory ID (inside or outside), and tailoring marketing efforts where ads are unlikely to reach those under 21.
For this study, researchers close to the legal age cutoff (between the ages of 21 and 23) went into hundreds of dispensaries throughout California to document their screening process. Of the shops they entered, 97 percent were compliant with ID checks. However, only 12 percent verified customers’ ages outside the shop, and nearly 70 percent did not comply in having signs indicating age limits. For the most part, dispensaries were only requiring proof of age once the person was already inside, where both products and marketing materials were in plain view. Continue reading