Washington Pot Stores Busted For Selling to Minors

By McCarton Ackerman 05/22/15

Four out of 22 pot retailers were caught in a statewide sting.

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Those against the legal marijuana industry are licking their chops at a new report which found that numerous retail marijuana businesses throughout Washington sold products to minors.

The state liquor control board busted four out of 22 establishments throughout Washington that were part of the sting, or 18% of all the operations included. Using 18-to 20-year-old operatives earlier this month, the establishments in question never asked for an ID before selling the minors their pot products. Before the sting operations began, all 22 establishments were contacted by the board and reminded of best practices for making sure underage consumers weren’t buying drugs.

Any marijuana business caught selling to minors will receive a fine of up to $2,500 and potentially have their licenses suspended. Being caught doing so three times in three years could lead to a permanent removal of the license and the person who conducts the transition could face a felony charge.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” said State Senator Ann Rivers.  “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

However, Rivers acknowledged that “because this market is new, some business people don’t have all of their systems in place as much as we might like them to, so I’m going to cut them just the slightest bit of slack.”

Liquor control board representative Brian Smith said similar sting operations would be conducted at all of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington by the end of June. He expected the recent busts to cause an increase in compliance in a manner similar to “what happened on the alcohol side.”

A sting operation conducted last year of 20 retail marijuana shops in Colorado found 100% compliance, but that’s just a fraction of the more than 250 establishments throughout the state.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.