Most online marijuana dispensaries in the US lack adequate age verification features, study warns.
But researchers in New York City found that only half of popular online stores require government identification and others simply ask for self-reported dates of birth.
About one in five offer delivery across state lines, even when the recipient lived in a state where cannabis was illegal.
In the article, the authors said, “Pediatricians and caregivers should be aware of the wide availability of online dispensaries and the potential spread of marijuana among minors.”
The link between recreational marijuana use and alcohol use in recent years has been most significant among younger adults ages 18 to 24.
In the article, the authors said, “Pediatricians and caregivers should be aware of the wide availability of online dispensaries and the potential spread of marijuana among minors” (file image).
It comes even as scientists warned of potential harms for teenagers and young adults, saying it can affect brain development, harm academic performance and be a gateway drug to stronger substances.
Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), previously told DailyMail.com that young people should avoid the drug completely until their brains have fully developed.
Surveys suggest that six percent of 12th graders use marijuana daily.
For the new study, published today in JAMA PediatricsResearchers at Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York searched online for digital cannabis dispensaries.
They used Google search terms like “buy marijuana online” and “order marijuana online” to find the most popular dispensaries.
Each website was then analyzed for age restrictions on viewing products and making a purchase. The study was carried out from April to June of this year.
Of the eighty online dispensaries located in 32 states they identified, researchers said only 40 of them required a government-issued ID to verify age.
Eight relied on self-reported dates of birth, while one used an age verification website or an address proving residency.
Three used a selfie photo to confirm someone’s age.
Of the sites, fifty also sold groceries in colorful packaging that researchers warned could appeal to minors. In the past, doctors have warned that they have also found packaging that disguises edibles as Doritos or Gushers, which helps make them attractive to children.
The scientists said 15 sites made no formal attempt to verify someone’s age while purchasing marijuana.
The names of the sites were not revealed, but at least one was located in a state where the sale of marijuana is not legal: North Carolina.
The above shows cannabis consumption in the states of the United States. Twenty-one states and DC have legalized it for recreational use in addition to medicinal use, while almost all now allow its use for medicinal purposes.
The researchers, led by pediatrician Ananya Terala, wrote in the article: “This cross-sectional study found that most online marijuana dispensaries lacked adequate age verification features and most accepted untraceable payment methods, which allowed young people to hide their transactions.
‘Despite regulations, the availability of marijuana products remains apparently high, exacerbated by potential shipping across state lines.
‘It is imperative to require strict age verification procedures before purchasing cannabis online and establish strict monitoring of online marijuana dispensaries to protect young people.
Minnesota became the 24th state in June to legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. The law will go into effect next year.
But now there are signs of pushback across the country: Oklahoma, North and South Dakota and Arkansas rejected legalization of the drug in the last year. Only six states ban the drug entirely.
Parents have demonstrated in states where the drug has the green light to warn that it is nothing like the ‘Woodstock weed’ used in the hippie movement of the 1980s and was now much stronger.
It comes amid reports that the legal marijuana industry is on the “brink of collapse” after being crippled by high prices and a thriving illicit marijuana market.