One of the clearer aspects of California cannabis law is age restrictions. People can only enter pharmacies if they are 21 years of age or older (for adult recreational customers) or 18 or older (for medical customers). The state affirmatively requires retail licensees to verify the appropriate age of customers before even allowing them into a pharmacy.
Selling cannabis to minors can result in severe penalties for cannabis licensees. Our cannabis attorneys in other states have already seen enforcement actions based on small sales, so we only expect them to increase in the future. In this post, we’re going to examine how the agencies will be able to enforce small sales bans in California.
Inevitably, what will inevitably happen in California (if it isn’t already) is law enforcement using “little bait” to verify age verification rules are being followed. The concept of small bait is actually anchored in the regulations of the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). In particular, law enforcement agencies may use individuals under the age of 21 to “try to buy cannabis products for enforcement purposes [state law]and arrest licensees, employees, or agents of licensees who sell cannabis products to minors. “
However, law enforcement hands are, to some extent, tied to how to use smaller bait. For example:
- At the time of an operation, a small bait must be at least 20 years old. Using bait that is 18 or 19 years old is still not allowed. Ultimately, this means that it will be much more difficult for law enforcement agencies to prove that someone is not enforcing medical age verification rules that allow 18-year-old customers to go to pharmacies as anyone under the age of 18 cannot act as bait .
- Decoys must wear their own government-issued ID with their correct date of birth or no ID at all. If the bait is asked to identify you, it must give it to the seller. This also means that decoys cannot represent “wrong” forms of identification. If these rules are literally followed, the only way sellers should break the rules is not asking for ID, not reading the ID properly, or simply ignoring the ID altogether.
- Decoys must truthfully answer all questions about their age. Again, the rules seem to prevent decoys from attempting to mislead a licensee into non-compliance with dishonesty.
These are not all the requirements for smaller bait, but the most important ones. While this form of enforcement will inevitably be used, law enforcement agencies must at least follow the procedures outlined above. If not, punished licensees may have reasons to take action against any type of penalty or fine imposed on them by the state cannabis agencies (although it is a little less clear whether this would serve as protection from any type of law enforcement) .
As we have long said, cannabis enforcement is inevitable. For more information on the California enforcement regime, visit the law Law Blog.