WEDNESDAY, Sept. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Most online marijuana dispensaries lack adequate age verification features and accept nontraceable payment methods, according to a research letter published online Sept. 25 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Ananya Terala, from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in Lake Success, and colleagues examined age verification procedures and potential youth access to online marijuana dispensaries. The analysis included data collected from the websites of 80 online marijuana dispensaries in 32 states.
The researchers found that 27.5 percent had delivery options for marijuana products across state lines, of which 95.0 percent delivered to states with differing marijuana laws than the dispensary’s home state. Seven in 10 websites prompted users to click yes to confirm they were of legal age on entry, while only 3.8 percent asked for a specific birthdate and none required verified age documentation to enter the website. Two-thirds of sites (66.3 percent) required users to verify age when completing a purchase or on receipt of a marijuana product, while 18.8 percent did not require formal age verification during the purchasing process. Methods of age verification included government-issued identification (50.0 percent), a medical marijuana identification number (26.3 percent), and self-reported birthdate (10.0 percent). Two-thirds of dispensaries (67.5 percent) listed policies regarding sale of marijuana to minors, although of these, 24.0 percent did not ask users to verify their age to enter the website or before purchasing or receiving the product. The majority of dispensaries (83.8 percent) accepted nontraceable payment methods (e.g., cash, prepaid cards, cryptocurrency) and 2.5 percent offered discounts for using cryptocurrency.
"Pediatricians and caregivers must be aware of the widespread availability of online dispensaries and potential dissemination of marijuana to minors," the authors write.