When Colorado Governor Jared Polis implemented an executive order that allows Colorado residents to prove identification with digital IDs and driver licenses, much of the focus on the consequences shifted to bars and restaurants. However, Colorado's recreational cannabis industry may also feel a ripple effect.
The executive order, issued October 30, allows Coloradans to use a mobile app, myColorado, to prove identification on their phones at businesses and government branches. Businesses are encouraged (but not mandated) to begin accepting the digital IDs and driver's licenses immediately, while government branches have until December 1. Colorado residents still have to carry their physical IDs for law enforcement, as the digital ID is not a full replacement for the physical ID.
According to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, dispensaries can start accepting digital IDs this year as well, but it will be up to the store. "It's up to the licensee to accept Colorado's digital ID only, or in combination with an individual's ID," says MED spokesperson Shannon Gray. "We have already advised licensees with the best practices to check that the Colorado ID is valid."
While it's unlikely that dispensaries would switch to a digital-only model given the amount of tourists and out-of-state customers they get, the medical marijuana sector has been accepting digital patient identification for over a year. Most medical dispensaries in Colorado can already accept digital medical marijuana cards, though some still choose to only accept the cards in their physical form.
Medical dispensary employees don't believe the technology used to verify medical marijuana cards can verify a digital ID, though. "It's a really new thing," says Jake Heym, an employee at Dank dispensary. "We're hoping to incorporate digital IDs more in the future."
In an interview with 9News, former Marijuana Industry Group director Kristi Kelly said the dozens of dispensaries registered with MIG are ready to make the switch. But she added that traditional forms of ID verification and scanning don't verify digital IDs.
According to Kelly, most handheld ID scanners should do the trick."We are recommending that any medical and retail stores that do not already use a handheld scanner for ID verification begin doing so," she told 9News.
The MED has provided three guidelines for dispensaries to check whether a digital ID is legitimate: Employees can ask the customer to press on the digital ID's screen to see if the text size changes, ask to rotate the phone to see if the hologram in the ID moves, or ask the customer to close the app, restart it, log back in and show their digital ID within the myColorado app.
If a digital ID does not align with these guidelines, the ID may be a counterfeit; employees cannot confiscate a suspected counterfeit ID, but they can ask to see a physical ID instead.