California Uses Minors to Bust Illegal Tobacco and Alcohol Sales But Hasn’t Done the Same With Pot

Marijuana found in an illegal marijuana dispensary raided by the LAPD in Wilmington in May, 2019.(Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Marijuana found in an illegal marijuana dispensary raided by the LAPD in Wilmington in May, 2019.(Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

California state agencies send minors into thousands of liquor stores and bars each year to attempt to buy alcohol or cigarettes. The stings catch hundreds of clerks and bartenders selling to underage customers.

But two years after the state began licensing marijuana shops, the agency tasked with enforcing cannabis laws in California has not conducted similar stings targeting the state’s multibillion-dollar pot industry, the largest in the country.

Proposition 64, which was approved by voters in 2016 to legalize the sale and cultivation of of pot, does not require the state to use sting operations to enforce the law. But proponents of the initiative promised aggressive action to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors, and experts and critics of marijuana legalization say the state is failing to use an important method to hold the industry accountable, even as stings using minors as decoys have become standard practice in other states that legalized marijuana.

“Decoy stings are a great indicator of how prevalent noncompliance truly is,” said Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, a retired California Highway Patrol officer. “They also help send a message that there are consequences for not following the law. California should be using every tool in the belt to go after noncompliant operations.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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