It’s Way Too Easy For Kids to Buy Marijuana Online

Posted on October 12, 2023 View all news

One of the major criticisms of expanded marijuana legalization is that it makes the drug more accessible to minors. A brand-new study just published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that it has become a valid concern.

“Pediatricians and caregivers must be aware of the widespread availability of online dispensaries and potential dissemination of marijuana to minors.”

Access to Marijuana by Minors Via Online DispensariesJAMA Pediatrics

According to the study, which looked at online weed sales in 32 states, internet dispensaries are woefully negligent regarding age verification safeguards that are supposed to prevent underage purchases.

This new information should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that making marijuana available everywhere for adults won’t have an influence on children.

Troubling Findings

By nearly every measure, online cannabis dispensaries are failing at keeping the drug away from adolescents and teens. Of the 80 internet weed shops looked at by researchers:

  • Only 70% asked website visitors if they were of legal age. The standard is 100%.
  • Less than 4% asked for a specific birthday.
  • NONE of the dispensaries “required verified age documentation to enter the website.”
  • Just 1 in 5 sites required formal age verification at any stage to purchase a cannabis product.
  • 1 in 4 would deliver marijuana across state lines.
  • Of those, 95% would deliver their products even if the other states had different laws.
  • 84% of the cannabis stores accepted non-traceable payment methods such as cash, prepaid debit cards, or even digital cryptocurrency, which allows “youth to hide their transactions.”

Verification failures at so many dispensaries demonstrate just how egregious the lack of regulation, enforcement, and accountability is within the cannabis industry.

Targeting Youth or Turning a Blind Eye?

Despite most dispensaries listing their policies prohibiting sales to minors, there was not much done in practice to prevent it. Worse still, some products appear explicitly aimed to market to young people.

The vast majority offered marijuana edibles such as candies, gummies, chocolates, baked goods, and sweetened drinks. Among these, 67% used colorful packaging that could be attractive to minors.

This predatory practice is serious because accidental marijuana poisonings among children are soaring.

More Marijuana Means More Problems

The study shows what we have been warning about for years. Marijuana use was on a decades-long decline thanks to the concerted work of prevention efforts, but the legalization and commercialization of marijuana is threatening to erase those public health gains.”

~ Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and former Senior Drug Policy Advisor to the White House

study published in the March 2023 edition of Addictive Behaviors found that youth marijuana use increased after state recreational marijuana was legalized.

Key findings include:

  • Past-month cannabis use went up among adolescents and young adults.
  • Among young people, the perceived risk of harm went down.
  • Use increased, but treatment admissions for Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) decreased.

Dr. Sabet continues, saying, “There is no question that CUD is stigmatized and proponents of legalization have told us that legalizing marijuana will lead to more and better treatment options for those struggling with a substance abuse disorder. This study shows that in reality, legalization normalizes use and creates heavy users who are less likely to seek help.”

It’s no coincidence that more young people than ever before are using marijuana – Big Cannabis spins a false narrative that marijuana is harmless, these dangerous industrialized products are marketed to children, dispensaries are everywhere in our cities and online, and buying cannabis has never been easier.

These are the consequences of expanded marijuana legalization.


Every Brain Matters is a trusted educational resource for families wanting to stay safe from the harms associated with marijuana and the drug culture. 

We reject the false narrative that industrialized marijuana is a harmless expression of personal freedom. Based on the latest scientific evidence and personal stories, our position is that the THC in marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug. Like all drugs of abuse, it can destroy lives

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–The Every Brain Matters Editorial Staff

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