PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon’s recreational marijuana industry was just subjected to the state’s first minor decoy sting, to see if retailers would sell cannabis to minors.
In December, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission conducted the sting at 86 recreational marijuana retailers across the state. They had volunteer minor decoys between the ages of 18 and 20 attempt to purchase cannabis.
Seven of the 86 Oregon retailers tested were located in Portland. Of those, three did not sell to minor decoys: Nectar, Tru Cannabis, and Panacea.
“It's a huge relief and I'm really proud of my staff,” said Panacea owner, Megan Egan. “They handled it well.”
Egan said her team takes OLCC compliance very seriously.
“You work really hard to get one of these licenses and you don't want to have anything stupid impact it,” said Egan.
According to the OLCC, Portland marijuana retailers that sold to minors during the sting were La Mota, Roseway Organics, Americanna Rx and Deanz Greanz.
Americanna Rx owner, Anna Schrab, told KGW she was embarrassed by the mistake and took immediate action, increasing compliance training and installing a scanner to help employees verify customers’ ages. She also implemented an incentive program for employees.
“We’re calling it ‘Catch a Minor Decoy,'” said Schrab. “We’re giving employees $500 every time they catch a minor trying to buy cannabis, decoy or not.”
Deanz Greanz owner, Dean Brundige, told KGW there was no excuse for what happened, and that he immediately revamped his store’s training protocols to ensure improvement.
“This will not happen again,” said Brundidge.
Both Schrab and Brundidge said they fired the employees who sold cannabis to minors.
“It is a bummer that some shops didn't pass,” said Egan. “Everyone will just try and do a better job in the future and it's entirely possible that every shop will pass next time if they do another sting.”
Mark Pettinger with the OLCC said the state would conduct its second minor decoy this month. He said the average compliance rate for December’s sting was 72 percent.
“Taking the lackadaisical approach jeopardizes their business and puts a harsh light on the industry,” said Pettinger. “If this is a good wake up call for them, the more the better.”
Pettinger said the results of December’s sting were under review. He said retailers found to be out of compliance would likely face the option of paying $1,650 fine or having their license suspended between 10 and 30 days.
According to the OLCC, minor decoys visited 19 licensed marijuana retailers in the Eugene-Springfield area. Three of those sold cannabis to minors. In the Salem-Keizer area, five out of 23 retailers sold to minors. On Dec. 28 In Central Oregon, minor decoys attempted to buy marijuana from five retailers. All five retailers met OLCC compliance by not selling to minors. Minor decoys were also used at 20 Central Oregon retailers on Dec. 19, and all of them passed as well. In Southern Oregon, minor decoys visited 12 retailers, four of which sold marijuana to minors.
Pettinger said the results of December’s sting were under review. He said retailers found to be out of compliance would likely face the option of paying a $1,650 fine or having their license suspended between 10 and 30 days.