As a still young industry, many are familiar with the strict compliance protocols associated with cannabis today. Cannabis retailers across the United States must abide by a set of rules enforced by state cannabis officials, in part to ensure that they verify identity and that products stay out of the hands of underage consumers.
Data published in the journal addictive behaviours It sheds new light on how well dispensaries followed these regulations, ultimately finding that adult-use retailers in five U.S. cities were in strict compliance with laws that required patrons to show identification and proof of legal age.
“As retail cannabis expands in the United States, monitoring it is critical to inform regulations and protect consumers. This study addresses this need by conducting point-of-sale audits to examine regulatory compliance (eg, age verification, signage), and advertising strategies. / Promotion, products, prices…” states the authors in the abstract.
Cannabis compliance: identification verification, warning labels, and appeal to minors
A team of investigators from George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health conducted point-of-sale audits of 150 randomly selected recreational dispensaries in Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle, 30 for each city. Investigators conducted the audits in the summer of 2022.
Age verification rates were high, above 90%, and the majority of retailers had signs indicating restricted access (87.3%), on-site consumption (73.3%), and distribution to minors (53.3%). Retailers were also most likely to post warnings about cannabis use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding (72%), followed by health risks (38%), effects on children/youth (18.7%) and DUI (14%).
Conversely, 28.7% posted health claims about cannabis, 20.7% posted “youth-oriented signage” and 18% had products with “youth-oriented packaging”.
Other banners, marketing results, and products
The study also explored other information dispensaries that are generally posted and marketed in-store. Price promotions were most prevalent, especially special price offers (75.3%), followed by daily, weekly, and monthly offers (66.7%) and banners for membership programs (39.3%).
A quarter of stores have banners and promotions advertising roadside delivery/pickup (28%) and/or online ordering (25.3%). Social media and website promotion was observed in 64.7% of the audited stores.
Finally, the investigators took a closer look at the product selection offered by the retailers. Most cannabis products were e-liquids (38%) or oils (24.7%), with food items appearing most often (53%) as the least effective products.
The most expensive product was often the bud and flower (58%); The least expensive were joints (54%). More than 81% of retailers sold vaporizers, rolling papers and glassware, such as hookahs, water pipes and bongs; 22.6% of CBD products were sold.
Results echo past compliance data
“Marketing strategies vary across cities, reflecting differences in state-specific regulations and/or gaps in compliance/enforcement,” the investigators wrote. “The findings underscore the need for continued monitoring of the cannabis retail trade to guide future regulatory and enforcement efforts.”
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano commented on the study’s findings, emphasizing, at the outset, “the business of regulation.”
“Illegal marijuana providers don’t ask for or verify identity, but licensed companies certainly do,” Armignano wrote in NORML. blog post. “States’ real-world experience with marijuana legalization confirms that these policies can be implemented in a way that provides regulated access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and abuse.”
The age verification numbers are consistent with previous research. Specifically, the 2022 study focuses on California The market found that dispensaries were highly compliant with the identity policy, and 100% fully compliant with the identity policy among randomly selected retailers.
“Recreational marijuana outlets licensed in California appear to avoid selling marijuana to underage customers. One reason may be a strong incentive for owners and managers of recreational marijuana outlets to avoid being closed for illegal activity,” the authors write.
That study also suggested that more studies and law enforcement agencies should investigate whether underage patrons are trying to enter cannabis retailers with false IDs and whether underage patrons are obtaining cannabis from illegal dispensaries or other sources.
bulletin Released by the Colorado Division of Marijuana Law Enforcement in August 2022, it also found that of more than 190 compliance checks using underage operatives, four companies in the state sold these individuals, showing a compliance rate of 98%.