I was planning to do a column regarding our batshit-crazy, Mad Hater Attorney General and his racist, prohibitionist rescinding of the Cole Memorandum and its tenuous protections. That would have been a fun read, and I would have been the only one to have thoughts on the matter!
But that story's just starting, so while the responses and reactions are developing, let's look at a problem in our state and cities—something we can all agree needs to be corrected.
INDISPUTABLE FACT: I am against cannabis being furnished to, shared with, sold, bartered or slipped to minors. Getting kids high isn't funny. Kids shouldn't be getting high, so don't sell weed to kids—that's creepy and wrong AF. Seriously, don't be the Weinstein of Weed in the Junior set, Creepo.
EXCEPTION: If they're minors with a legitimate medical condition. And, yes, with the bias against cannabis as a medicine, that leaves a broad question as to what's a "legitimate" medical condition, especially for minors. That's another column.
This one, patient reader, is about dispensaries in Oregon getting spot checked by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission last month for something more than a faulty camera or other minor violation.
It's about letting underage people into a dispensary—never OK, acceptable, cool or funny. (Previous statement regarding medical notwithstanding. Medical patients: I hear, see and feel you.)
Over the holidays, the OLCC performed what they call "minor decoy operations" through the state, in which minor volunteers attempt to gain entry and make a purchase from a dispensary, using their own IDs, which show they're underage. In the words of the OLCC, "The volunteers carry their own legal ID that identifies them as under 21, and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage the sale of marijuana." So these were not children with Benjamin Button level prosthetics and makeup, and they weren't carrying Chinese knock-off IDs.
Here are the results:
12.20.17 - Eugene-Springfield - 19 dispensaries visited, three failed. Compliance rate: 84 percent
12.21.17 – Keizer-Salem - 23 dispensaries visited, five failed. Compliance rate: 78 percent
12.21.17 - Portland - Seven dispensaries visited, four failed. Compliance rate: 43 percent
12.28.17 - Central Oregon - Five dispensaries visited, zero failed. Compliance rate: 100 percent
12.29.17 - Southern Oregon - 12 dispensaries visited, four failed. Compliance rate: 67 percent
Violations for a first offense of the sale to a minor range from a license suspension of 10 to 30 days or a fine of $1,650. Failure to check IDs properly can result in a seven-day license suspension or a fine of more than $1,100.
First, mad props to Central Oregon with a 100 percent compliance rate. The rest of the state applauds you.
Now, rest of state? What...the...fuck...are...you...doing.
Portland, I'm looking hard at you. 43 percent compliance? 43 percent? Full compliance involves correctly reading a person's ID. I understand reading comprehension levels and attention spans in 'Murica may not be shattering ceilings, but this isn't the untranslated version of "The Iliad." It's an ID. That date of birth line is really the Cliff's Notes, and it's no more than eight digits.
I've checked IDs for a living. It's boring, tedious and can make one question the work/self-esteem connection with extreme prejudice. But I was highly diligent—often while high—in correctly executing my duties, knowing what was on the line if I screwed it up.
Deadlines and space restrictions don't allow us to explore and compare what such inspection results are at OLCC-licensed liquor stores, nor what the comparative potential negative consequences are of having minors gain access to cannabis versus alcohol.
Strict diligence is a part of becoming legitimate with an industry still feared, misunderstood and in some corners, hated by society. No one wins when minors gain access through regulated channels—and yes, there are (and have been for decades) numerous "unregulated access points" for minors to obtain cannabis.
Every dispensary should view this as a wakeup call to re-dedicate to ID standards. The devil is both in the details, and in seeking to dismantle the hard won gains cannabis has made. Let's not give them easy ammunition with results like these. We're better than that.