Lawmakers around the country have been moving quickly in an effort to protect the cannabis industry after the latest statements on the subject from both a White House spokesperson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. On both a federal and state level many efforts are being made and lawmakers are taking a stand for states’ right to make these decisions – and in Oregon that now includes an effort to protect the privacy of each and every individual patient and retail customer who purchases marijuana.
Currently, Oregon has no laws about keeping patient or customer information – which has given dispensaries the luxury of keeping patients’ personal information including names, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases even the products they have purchased and when. In Colorado and Alaska there are laws in place specifically requiring that this sort of information not be kept. In the state of Washington, while there is no law against it, it is certainly not something people approve of.
“The reason we keep that information is to reach out to them — it’s marketing, just like any retailer,” said Donald Morse, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council.
Dispensary owners say that they only keep the information for marketing purposes – and in the event a customer can’t remember what a product they purchased before was called they might be able to look it up by keeping extensive records. However, lawmakers fear there are too many situations in which the government could attempt to obtain this information for various reasons – from comparing the names to that of federal employees, or the firearms registry for example. Many believe that this information should not be kept in effort to protect the citizens from any potential federal involvement.
A bill was drafted by a group of lawmakers who are in charge of creating the laws for the marijuana industry in the state and it would require all marijuana businesses to destroy all customer or patient information within 48 hours of obtaining it. This would include any and all personal information the business has on the customers – so it may be difficult for them to market unless they did so on a daily basis, but it would still be possible, especially with online marketing options. In the end, the most important thing is protecting the people.
“I could see where the federal government would come in and try to gather this information from businesses that have stockpiled it and retained it in their records,” said Democratic state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a bill sponsor who is also a prosecutor. “I think we as legislators have a duty to protect our citizens.”
Businesses are arguing that the government wouldn’t go after the individuals, but rather large corporations if they made any real move at all – claiming that the cost of federal interference wouldn’t make it a reasonable move in the first place. However, lawmakers are more concerned with preventing as much federal interference as possible, including anything that could potentially cause direct harm to the citizens. This bill will need to go through the entire legislative process but seems generally well received. If it lands on the governor’s desk she will surely sign it as she has pledged to fight any federal interference that comes their way.