Plenty of underage tourists who come to Colorado seem to think a bogus identification card will work just as well at a pot shop as it will at a bar. But according to Haley Littleton, spokesperson for the Town of Breckenridge, which has catalogued at least 428 fake ID cases since February 2015 with no end in sight, they're wrong.
"Our main theory is that people come into town and think, 'This is great. I can take advantage of this,'" Littleton says. "But it's not like at a bar, where you can go in, try to order and then give them an ID, and if they just glance at it quickly, you might get a drink or you might not. Marijuana dispensaries are really stringent on fake IDs — and so are we."
Breckenridge data bears out this assertion. In February 2015, the first month included in the calculations, two fake IDs were confiscated, but two months later, in April 2015, the number hit 42. So far this year, the seizures total eight in January, nineteen in February, fourteen in March and 26 in April.
These totals are even more surprising given that there are only three dispensaries in Breckenridge: a branch of Green Dragon, as well as Alpenglow Botanicals and Breckenridge Organic Therapy. Littleton has praise for all of them when it comes to being on the lookout for fake IDs. "They've done a great job," she maintains. "They want to make sure they're operating at a legal level, so they can keep their license."
As an example of their approach, Littleton again compares marijuana businesses to ones that specialize in alcohol: "At a bar, there's no problem getting in. But our dispensaries take steps to catch those IDs before underage patrons can even get into the building."
The number of fake IDs seized in Breckenridge varies from month to month, with the highest concentrations turning up during ski season and especially spring break; the high-water mark was 44 in April 2017. But while law enforcement involvement is a must in each case, Littleton says officials are cognizant of the fact that what may seem like a minor matter in Colorado can have serious repercussions elsewhere.
"Not every municipality or state is as open about marijuana as Colorado is," she acknowledges, "and we understand that having a marijuana offense on a record could potentially harm someone in the future. Doing a background check on them could really throw things off."
With that in mind, Breckenridge has developed a policy that is designed to discourage the use of fake IDs to purchase marijuana without ruining lives.
"People are required to come to our municipal court," Littleton says. "But the court allows defendants to plead not guilty and work out a deferred judgement deal from our prosecutors. After a year, pending good behavior, the charges will change to a non-marijuana offense — usually disorderly conduct or a noise violation. The fine is the same, but it's under a different heading. So it holds people accountable, but it does it in ways that don't have the long-term ramifications of a marijuana charge."
Not that Breckenridge shrugs off marijuana-related fake-ID offenses. In Littleton's words, "We want people coming here to know we're really serious about them."
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