Oregon lawmakers are taking legislative steps to protect marijuana consumer data from the federal government.
Currently, many Oregon cannabis shops keep customer data on file that may include a customer’s name, address, date of birth, and a record of purchased products. It is a practice that is often used to track buying habits and personal preferences. With Senate Bill 863, retailers will have 30 days to destroy any and all of this data and are further prohibited from collecting this data in the future. Email promotions and mailing lists will still be allowed, provided the consumer consents voluntarily. The bill passed 53-5 on Monday by the Oregon House, and it is expected that Governor Kate Brown will sign the bill into law.
The legislation was inspired by newly-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ previous stance on marijuana, which he recently summarized by saying,
“I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana.”
While a new Gallup poll indicates support for cannabis legalization is at an all-time high, Sessions anti-marijuana agenda has politicians and advocates concerned in states that have legalized recreational cannabis. With comments suggesting he believes marijuana to be, “only slightly less awful” than heroin, lawmakers are viewing these comments as a renewed pledge to enforce the federal ban. Republican Representative Carl Wilson, a sponsor of the bill, expressed his concerns for the rights of individual states to decide on legalized marijuana without fear of federal interference.
“Given the immediate privacy issues … this is a good bill protecting the privacy of Oregonians choosing to purchase marijuana,” he said.
Other states with legal cannabis laws are also taking steps to protect consumer data. Alaska, Colorado and Washington already have similar legislation in place. California legalized recreational marijuana this past November, with formal regulation expected to launch in January 2018. Their state legislature is taking consumer protection a step further with Assembly Bill 1578. In addition to protecting consumer data for both recreational customers and medical marijuana patients, it would prohibit state and local law enforcement from facilitating or otherwise aiding federal enforcement efforts that conflict with the state’s own marijuana laws.
Politicians in states where cannabis is legal are also making offensive efforts to protect their constituents. The recently labeled “Cannabis Caucus” have revived efforts to reschedule marijuana at the federal level. The bipartisan bill would move marijuana from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule III substance, a category that is assigned to substances that “have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” The Caucus also is proposing new banking legislation for the cannabis industry, which suffers from a lack of access to traditional banking and financial services due to federal prohibition. The new legislation would be comprehensive, including, “Issues ranging from banking to tax deductions to employment issues to potential for enforcement,” according to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). “We’re really at the tipping point on marijuana reform,” he said.