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Liquor, cannabis retailers get pointers for safer sales


August 2, 2018 | View PDF

Members from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and Pullman Police Department met with business owners and employees from local bars and cannabis shops July 18 at Pullman High School to review state laws governing the sale of liquor and marijuana.

Shane Emerson, College Hill officer with the Pullman Police Department who spoke at the training, said the session was an opportunity for retailers to learn directly from law enforcement how to prevent selling to minors and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the array of regulations governing alcohol and cannabis sales.

“It's a lot better for them to hear straight from the horse's mouth than from their employer,” Emerson said.

Dale Bowman from WSLCB detailed the security features unique to Washington driver's licenses and IDs: A black state seal and branches from the background image overlapping the ID photo; “ghost images” of the state seal which can be seen using UV light; the word “Washington” written in repeating, non-aligned text; a mountain in the upper part of the ID; the appearance of the word “void” if the laminate has been altered; and the “100 rule,” which dictates that the first two numerals of the license number plus the year of birth should equal 100.

Washington licenses and IDs have undergone a rash of alterations to enhance security within the past year and a half, Bowman said, explaining the importance for liquor and cannabis retailers to familiarize themselves with these changes.

Bowman stated college towns like Pullman tend to attract a high number of fake IDs, and he presented tips for spotting them. According to Bowman, most fakes are non-Washington IDs, because retailers are less familiar with how legitimate cards from other states should look.

Asking a customer to verify personal details listed on their ID, such as their street address or birth date, is another effective way to catch fakes, Bowman said.

Finally, Bowman said suspicious retailers can ask a customer to sign a separate piece of paper to compare it with the signature on the ID card

When in doubt about the legitimacy of an ID, Bowman stressed, retailers may refuse to sell to anyone.

Next, the session covered how to properly confiscate a fraudulent ID, should the situation arise. Bowman began by advising caution when taking a customer's ID, as doing so constitutes seizing someone's personal property. However, the law allows for individuals to hold onto an ID for a “reasonable time” to allow them to examine the card and notify authorities.

Confiscating a fake ID is not worth a physical altercation, Bowman explained, encouraging retailers to simply let customers leave if they get rowdy.

Compliance checks were another topic covered at the training session. As Bowman explained, WSLCB routinely uses underage “investigative aides” who attempt to purchase age-restricted products as a way to ensure retailers are following necessary sales procedures. Bowman stated these investigative aides do not look “overly mature” and do not use fake or altered IDs, although they may lie to retailers about their age.

During compliance checks, Bowman said they also look at whether retailers check IDs at the door or sales counter before beginning the sales process in order to deter “minor frequenting.” Minor frequenting occurs when an underage customer is allowed to remain in an age-restricted area. It can lead to a $1,000 fine.

Emerson advised retailers to only do what they are comfortable with when dealing with customers but insisted they report all incidents of fraudulent IDs to authorities.

“Be a good witness,” Emerson said, encouraging retailers to take note of a customer's appearance and clothing if they present a fake ID. Emerson also suggested recording video of an underage person who attempts to buy alcohol or marijuana as another way to assist authorities in their investigation.

“We just want compliance, we don't want arrests,” Emerson said.


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