Good day all, this is Rob Hendrix with Cannabis Consulting Nationwide where I specialize in consulting and advising to folks like you all things related to opening and operating a legal, adult-use retail Cannabis shop. As you may know, I own a retail Cannabis shop in the great State of Washington in the USA. Opened in August of 2014, we have been successful, profitable and oh yes, most importantly, violation free. Its this last point I would like to discuss today.
In our State currently it is a felony to sell any products containing Cannabis to a minor. Doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or an honest mistake, it’s an epic violation and a major crime. There is a Bill floating around in our State legislature which which would lessen the severity of selling to a minor accidentally, but frankly I am assuming this change in the current law will not move forward. Not in this upcoming session, perhaps down the road but for now Congress will say the need is great to stay on top of those unreliable pot shop owners! So in all honesty, despite the bit of sarcasm in that last sentence, I take this very, very seriously. We talk about ID checks literally every day. It is a subject that cannot be overemphasized.
We have a list of acceptable forms of ID here in Washington State. And it is the law that no one under 21 can even be on the premises let alone purchase product. (There are exceptions for minors who possess a State legal medical authorization card, but that’s a cumbersome discussion to attempt here so I’ll save it for another article). There are actually different rules pertaining to acceptable forms of ID for purchasing Cannabis than tobacco and/or alcohol. It’s much more stringent for Cannabis, of course!
But here’s my problem with these rules pertaining to ID and what is acceptable or not. It is not a violation of the law to accept an unauthorized form of ID. It is not a violation of the law to choose not to ID an individual. It is only a violation of the law to allow minors to loiter on the premises and of course, it’s a violation, and felony, to sell Cannabis or Cannabis-infused products to a minor. My point is I am hearing shops are turning people away who possess an expired driver license or some other form of ID they deem unqualified even if the individual in question is obviously over the legal age of 21. This is nuts! The laws in my State have been written and such laws I predict in other States and/or Counties will also be written in such a way as to make a shop owner feel like ONLY individuals who possess and present an acceptable form of ID can be served regardless of other evidence known to the employee or shop owner. Case in point; a shop near my store, in Yakima, Washington had a customer, a repeat customer, who had an expired driver’s license. And even though he was known to the shop employees and in spite of the fact they all knew him to be of age, he was 62!, they refused to serve him. This is lunacy.
I will never attempt to minimize the importance of never, ever selling to a minor. This is and quite correctly should be a major violation. In the big picture, it’s a major component in the industry being accepted as a mainstream business. Many in opposition to the legalization of Cannabis fear the “normalization” of Cannabis can and will lead to an uptick in minor usage and consumption. It is a critical part of our collection public relations battle to be seen as legitimate that we accept the awesome responsibility that running a retail Cannabis shop entails. That all being said however, one must remember that while selling to a minor is a violation of the law, it is not a violation to use your past experience and knowledge and common sense to determine that a customer is of age by means other than those stated in the law(s). Be smart, be thorough and be ready to defend and stand behind your decision to accept that an individual standing in your retail establishment is not aminor and eligible to be served in your store.
I know better than most the restrictive and suffocating nature of my State’s regulatory framework and how it can make a person paranoid, always looking for threats to his/her livelihood. To a degree, this is wise. Always use your brain to do the right things and yes, follow the letter and the spirit of the law. This is your single best tool in the ongoing attempts to run your shop in a squeaky clean fashion. You’ll be proud of the way you run your shop and you’ll sleep much better at night knowing you’re doing things the right way for all concerned. Especially a 62 year old customer who has an expired ID!