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ID Checking Best Practices for Marijuana Dispensaries

Posted on: September 22nd, 2023

As of April 2023, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21. All states require dispensary customers present valid identification that proves they are 21 years of age or older.

Why Dispensaries Must be Vigilant About ID Verification

Failure to verify the age of customers and anyone else present in their place of business can lead to significant penalties for marijuana dispensaries. Much like a bar or restaurant running afoul of the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, allowing minors to purchase marijuana or even be on the premises can result in major fines and/or license suspensions.

Below is an overview of some of the penalties in various states for failing to verify age and ID verification of customers in dispensaries:

How to Effectively Check IDs

The most effective ID verification starts with proper training. Does the picture on the ID look like the person standing in front of you? Is it from your state or a different state? Is the ID still valid in the state from which is was issued? Does the ID format match? Does the license or ID card look like it is supposed to?

ID training for dispensary employees should include their state and the immediately surrounding states, the IDs they are most likely to see. Special features such as microprint, UV and the general license characteristics should be familiar to the highly trained employee.

Why Consumer Advocates Tell People to Insist on Manual Verification

In a time when citizens are concerned about their privacy, scanning a license isn’t always the best option. Significant questions have been posed as to who has access to the data contained in those scanners. Just like any other business, hackers can breach customer data stored in the computer program of a marijuana dispensary and that information can get into the wrong hands.

An even greater concern is the ability of the fake ID manufacturers to encrypt a license with the correct information on the barcode so that it scans and “passes” every time. A well trained employee who looks at the customer and has the detailed information on the license they are looking at is your best protection against underage access.

A Physical ID Checking Guide Offers a Better Solution

Although people are not supposed to cross state lines to purchase marijuana and then bring it back to a state where it is not legal, this happens all the time. Dispensary clerks then face the challenge of knowing how to spot a fake ID from multiple states.

The USA & Canada ID Checking Guide offers an in-depth description and examples of what to look for on a legitimate ID to ensure the dispensary is not selling to underage customers.

The Alcohol & Beverage Control (ABC) Commissions and marijuana enforcement agencies in most states recommend and rely on the ID Checking Guide. Published for more than 50 years, the book helps communities enforce age restrictions on controlled substances.