Is Your Marijuana Buying History Safe from the Feds?

Federal Marijuana Crackdown Coming?

Is a federal crackdown on marijuana coming in 2017? After all, the Feds locked up over 3,500 people for marijuana related drug offensesin 2016 alone. No one knows for sure what the new administration will do.

Should you be worried that your marijuana buying history could end up in the wrong hands?

Just think about all of the potential conflicts:

  • You could be denied purchase of a firearm!
  • It could jeopardize your health insurance coverage?!
  • You could be denied employment!
  • You might even be denied citizenship!
  • Involved in a child custody proceeding?

Well Oregon legislators aren’t waiting around to find out. Oregon legalized recreational cannabis in July of 2015, and a new Oregon Bill that just passed the legislature (53-5) will prohibit marijuana retailers from keeping information collected from their customers for more than 48 hours.

Perhaps it’s time to start asking some questions.

Come to think of it, why are so many retailers, taking down your name, age and address – before you are allowed access to a dispensary. What are they doing with this information?

What is MY Privacy Policy?

And what are a cannabis retailer’s store Privacy Policy when it comes to your personal information? Is it posted somewhere? Do dispensaries even have formal Privacy Policies? Is it required by the OLCC (Oregon’s governing agency on marijuana)? The state of Oregon? All good questions, but still – maybe the wrong questions?

Instead, should we be asking ourselves –
What is My Privacy Policy?

What’s Your Privacy Policy?

In an age when individual privacy is coming under attack and the federal government has yet to articulate its stance on marijuana, it’s time to think twice before allowing cannabis retailers to maintain records on your marijuana purchases. It’s time to establish your own privacy policy!

The White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, indicated this past February that marijuana laws might be ramped upAttorney General Sessions and his (disconnected) stance on marijuana is all too familiar. Just take 5 seconds and listen to the video below to hear AG Sessions and his opinion of marijuana users.


Sure, your current employer might not care about your cannabis use (unfortunately, most do). But what if you change positions, or are forced to change companies? What about drug screens and background checks? Did you know that your social media habits are sometimes researched by prospective employers as part of pre-employment screenings?

Could your lifelong marijuana buying habits be up for sale to the highest bidder??

Just imagine if a potential employer had access to your marijuana purchasing history? Do you think you would still get offered that great job?

Who really knows where your marijuana buying history could ultimately end up? Maybe your data will become part of a hack that is published on the web?

Hello 15 minutes of fame?!?


Did you know that Oregon state law only requires a cannabis retailer to verify a customer’s age?

In fact, can you think of another retailer in any industry, who demands your driver’s license, address, and DOB upon entry to their store??

Ok skip the ‘when you are asked’ part for a moment. Let’s say the retailer only want this information upon sale… Then it’s just like going to a pharmacy, right? They take down a lot of personal information just like a pharmacist, don’t they?

A: Yes they do. But your personal information obtained by a doctor, pharmacy or other medical professional is protected by the HIPAA Privacy Rule, a set of strict rules governing the handling of personal health information. Companies spend a lot of money each year protecting your private medical information from being released inappropriately. The federal government ensure that they do. So you’re covered right? Wrong.

Let me preface the following statement with a reminder that I am not an attorney…  The information obtained about you – by a merchant dispensing marijuana, is not covered by HIPAA since marijuana remains federally prohibited. This is true, whether you go to a recreational marijuana retailer or to a medical marijuana dispensary. Has a marijuana dispensary every asked you to sign a HIPAA or other Privacy agreement? I’m guessing they have not.

A doctor cannot even write a prescription for marijuana without running afoul of federal law. The best a physician can do in any state, is to write a patient a ‘marijuana recommendation’ instead of prescription for marijuana. Until federal laws catch up, it’s up to the individual marijuana user to ensure their private information stays private.

So why are cannabis retailers requiring this extra information?

Short industry answer: Demographic information coupled with consumer buying habits is highly valuable. When used responsibly, it helps businesses improve, market more effectively and make more money while providing consumers with the products they enjoy.

However, this information is also often sold to third parties. For some retailers, your personal information and buying habits are nothing more than another key revenue stream to sell to the highest bidder.

According to Republican Rep. Carl Wilson of Grants Pass,

“The law currently does not prohibit a retailer from retaining additional information about their customers in order to send them special offers, coupons and other types of marketing materials…”

Hmm. Special offers and coupons in exchange for my private marijuana buying history? You’ve got to be joking!

Just Say No!

I may be ok with my grocery store knowing that I eat oatmeal, or that I happen to love, love, love Marionberry Pie. But my marijuana buying habits, those are a way more personal and I choose to keep them private! Should you?

What about a Government Subpoena?

What if the federal government attempts to learn who is buying marijuana in Oregon through the use of a subpoena or other court order? Legislators hope that this bill (once signed by the Governor) will provide those who visit Oregon cannabis shops, the protection they need should the federal government begin a crackdown.

Senator Floyd Prozanski told a committee last month: “I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure that their personal identification information is not somehow compromised.”

Under the new law (expected to be signed by Governor Kate Brown), marijuana stores inside Oregon will still be allowed to collect personal information from customers who voluntarily provide it. Yes, folks do this.
The law will also prohibit these retailers selling this information to third parties.

UPDATE - April 22nd

Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 863 into law on Monday, April 17th, 2017. Details
What’s Next, an end to Drug Screening??

Great job Oregon, now how about going farther and passing Senate Bill 301, currently in Oregon legislature?

Senate Bill 301

Senate Bill 301 “Provides that conditioning employment on refraining from using any substance that is lawful to use in this state is unlawful employment practice.” This bill would essentially provide workplace protections for those who choose to use marijuana outside their place of employment.

Senate Bill 301 would largely END pre-employment drug screens for cannabis in Oregon!

Senate Bill 301 is hugely important and is sure to face stiff opposition from the likes of Quest, Labcorp, and Medtox – just a few companies that leech millions of dollars for employment drug-screening. These corporations have money to spend on lobbying to convince legislators to keep the status quo in place. I urge you to think for yourself. Research what drug tests actually accomplish in terms of preventing or predicting drug use in the workplace, or in terms of safety. I think you’ll be surprised.

My view: drug-screening tests are nothing more than illegal search and seizure, while presuming guilt before proving innocence. America is better than this and its time for Oregon to lead the way forward.

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