Bulletin staff report

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission beefed up the penalties Thursday for licensees that sell marijuana to anyone under age 21, according to a commission news release.

The move occurs after 16 licensed marijuana retailers failed a statewide underage decoy operation in December. The sting tested 86 marijuana shops over two days. All of the 22 retailers tested in Bend and three in Madras checked for proper ID, according to the OLCC.

The regulations increase the penalty for a first-time, unintentional sale of cannabis to anyone younger than 21 to a 30-day license suspension or a fine of $4,950. The previous penalty was a 10-day suspension or a $1,650 fine.

The regulation takes effect Friday for six months, after which the commission may consider making the rule permanent, according to the OLCC.

If the sale is intentional, the retail employee involved may lose his or her marijuana worker permit.

The commission also increased the penalties for multiple violations of the rule. Two violations in two years would result in an automatic 30-day license suspension; three violations in a two-year period would result in license revocation, according to the release.

The previous penalties were a 10-day license suspension, and a 30-day license suspension, respectively.

Under the previous rule a retail license would be revoked after a fourth violation in two years.

“It’s our core mission at the OLCC to prevent the sale of marijuana to minors,” the commission quoted Steve Marks, OLCC executive director, as saying. “The early results are unacceptable, and we’ll keep holding retailers and their employees accountable until they get it right.”

Cannabis retailers may expect a decoy check once a year; prior offenders may expect more frequent checks, OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger said Jan. 11.

In December, OLCC enforcement agents and decoys checked retailers in Southern and Central Oregon, the Eugene-Springfield, Keizer-Salem and Portland areas. Four of seven retailers in Portland failed the check, the lowest compliance rate in the check.