SB 1451 would impose heavier penalties for marijuana retailers caught selling to minors
SACRAMENTO – A local state senator is trying to prevent California from making the same mistakes as Colorado when that state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014.
On April 17, Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), who represents Senate District 16 encompassing Exeter and Visalia, introduced legislation to impose stricter penalties on marijuana retailers who sell to minors. Fuller said the legislation was in response to spikes in marijuana use and edible cannabis consumption in the State of Colorado, especially among the state’s youth.
“I have been following the heartbreaking stories from Colorado about the rise in marijuana use and edible cannabis abuse by Colorado’s youth. This should serve as a very serious warning for California, and we must ensure that these products stay out of our children’s hands,” said Sen. Fuller.
A report released last year by Children’s Hospital Colorado reported that four times as many marijuana-intoxicated teenagers came to its ER or urgent care centers following legalization of recreational pot in that state. The number of teens diagnosed annually with marijuana intoxication or testing positive for pot during a drug screen at Children’s Hospital Colorado rose from 146 in 2005 to 639 in 2014, when the state legalized recreational marijuana. The state also saw an increasing number of children under 9 who were admitted to the emergency room or hospital after accidentally consuming marijuana.
Eating or drinking marijuana can make children very sick. They may have problems walking or sitting up, have a hard time breathing or start to feel sleepy.
Senate Bill 1451 would impose a penalty on any licensed cannabis retailer who sells or furnishes cannabis or cannabis products to an underage person. Under current law, the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control can suspend or revoke a license in response to any violation, but no minimum standard exists for selling to underage individuals. In order to reduce any incentive to sell recreational cannabis to underage users, SB 1451 would set a penalty standard as follows:
- 1st violation – 15-day suspension
- 2nd violation within 36 months – 25-day suspension
- 3rd violation within 36 months – revocation of license
“We must ensure that children are not the targets of marijuana marketing or sales,” said Sen. Fuller. “Senate Bill 1451 will ensure that any retailer selling cannabis to minors will be held accountable for their actions,” said Fuller.
SB 1451 is supported by law enforcement including the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA). In a letter of support the CPOA states, “The bill provides a clear approach to impose penalties to anyone with an adult recreational cannabis license who sells cannabis or any cannabis products to a person under the age of 21.”
SB 1451 passed the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on a unanimous vote.