Compliance With Personal ID Regulations by Recreational Marijuana Stores in Two U.S. States

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2017 Nov;80(6):679-686. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.679.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure compliance with age and personal ID regulations by state-licensed recreational marijuana stores in two states.

Method: Recreational marijuana stores (N = 175) in Colorado and Washington State were each visited twice by pseudo-buyer assessment teams in September 2016 to April 2017. The observer entered the store first, performed an environmental scan, and observed the buyer's purchase behavior. In both Washington State visits and in the first visit in Colorado, a young-adult buyer attempted to enter the store and purchase marijuana without showing a state-approved ID (i.e., valid driver's license). In the second Colorado visit, a buyer age 18-20 showed an underage driver's license and attempted to enter the store and purchase marijuana.

Results: All stores (100%) requested an ID. Stores refused buyers in 73.6% of visits at the entrance, 88.3% cumulative before the counter, and 92.6% by the time of a purchase attempt. Refusal was lower in Washington State (at entry, 53.1%; before the counter, 80.5%; and at purchase attempt, 86.6%) than in Colorado (at entry, 95.3%, p < .01; before the counter, 96.5%, p < .01; and at purchase attempt, 98.8%, p < .01), but it did not differ by buyer protocol (p > .05).

Conclusions: Compliance with laws restricting marijuana sales to individuals 21 or older with a valid ID was high. Compliance in Washington State might be improved by having store personnel check IDs at the store entry. Although recreational stores may not be selling marijuana directly to youth, no information was collected on straw purchases.