Oregon To Destroy All Cannabis Records So The Feds Can't Get Them
Dreading and preparing for the possibility that the feds might amp up on pot enforcement, Oregon’s politicians approved a proposal last Monday that ensures the protection of marijuana users. The proposal prevents head shops and dispensaries from revealing the identities of consumers as well as their consumption and purchasing habits, especially since some shops make it as easy to buy cannabis products as it were to purchase liquor.
The proposal aims to eliminate a business practice in Oregon where dispensaries store a digital trail with personal information of recreational pot users. The information they store includes the customers’ names, addresses, birthdates and other information obtained from any ID they present upon arrival to the shop to prove they are of age – such as passports and driver’s licenses.
The data is collected without the consent of customers, and is stored by businesses with the intention of using it for customer service or marketing purposes. For example, certain marijuana shops link a customer’s driver’s license number with each cannabis product purchased, so for the customer’s future visits the shop employees already have their consumer behavior and purchase history on file.
The proposal was approved overwhelmingly with a 53-5 vote. It’s now in the hands of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown who they expect will approve it into a law. The approval of this proposal would align Oregon’s laws with similar measures already in place in Colorado and Alaska, as well as industry standards in Washington. "Given the immediate privacy issues ... this is a good bill protecting the privacy of Oregonians choosing to purchase marijuana," says Oregon state Rep. Carl Wilson, a Republican. Rep. Wilson also helped sponsor the bill.
Once the proposal becomes a law, Oregon’s marijuana shops will be given 30 day’s notice to get rid of all customer data in their database. The practice would also be prohibited in the future, so shops would no longer ever be able to store such records again. However, recreational users have the option to sign up to dispensary email lists if they want to be notified of promos and discounts the stores are offering. The ruling does not apply to medical marijuana patients, whose records will still be kept by shop owners.
The move from Oregon was one of the first as a response to the confusing signals sent by the current administration about their stance on marijuana prohibition. Pot is already legal for recreational use in 8 states including Washington DC, while its use is legal medically for more than half of the states.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer is responsible for rocking the boat late February when he mentioned a possible crackdown on recreational pot. A few weeks later, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that that medical pot use has been “hyped, maybe too much” and is “only slightly less awful” compared to heroin. President Trump though has mentioned in the past that states will be given full discretion to handle their own marijuana laws.
Despite all the instability, heat from the feds definitely poses a serious problem in states like Oregon where the medical and recreational marijuana industries are tied together. Colorado lawmakers are deliberating on a new strategy for marijuana growers as well as retailers so that they can reclassify the recreational pot use as medical pot.
Governors of Oregon together with Colorado, Alaska, and Washington requested for clarification last Monday regarding the administration’s stance on marijuana policy sent in a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Both clearly indicated that marijuana enforcement wasn’t a priority during the Obama’s administration. Two days after, Sessions released a memo to over 90 attorneys saying that the DOJ will consider marijuana as part of a wider-scale crime reduction strategy during the summer.
On the other hand, Congress is preparing for April 28 when the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment will expire, together with the funding for the federal government. The amendment has been critical in preventing fed money from being a resource to interfere with state medical cannabis laws for 3 years now. "It's pretty clear the (marijuana) prohibition has not worked," US Rep Earl Blumenauer tells the Associated Press. "These questions are to be expected and they need to be dealt with, but it's hard to envision going back."
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