TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) – The lax enforcement of age limits by many online marijuana dispensaries makes it easier for minors to buy weed, claims new research that looked at online weed sales in 32 states.

“It is imperative to require strict age-verification procedures prior to cannabis purchases online and to establish stringent surveillance of online marijuana dispensaries to protect youth,” wrote the authors of the new study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The authors looked at age-verification policies and other practices of 80 online dispensaries. About 18.8% of dispensaries “required no formal age verification at any stage of the purchasing process,” according to the study.

Meanwhile, more than 80% accepted “non-traceable” payment methods such as pre-paid cards or cash.

These polices are “enabling youth to hide their transactions,” the authors noted.

The issue, in addition to the law, is about what impact marijuana has on the developing brain, especially as potency of products has increased, the researchers noted.

The pandemic saw a drop in marijuana use by minors, possibly because it was harder to get and use the drugs without notice, the New York Times reported.

The new study also found that nearly one-third of online dispensaries allowed delivery across state lines. Among those that did, 95% would deliver to states that had different laws than the states they were based in.

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

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on marijuana and teens.

SOURCE: JAMA Pediatrics, Sept. 25, 2023; New York Times