It looks as if Colorado’s medical marijuana grow rooms and dispensaries will soon have live cameras with state employees watching on the other end. But that’s not the worst of it, according to some patient advocates.
One item among the 90-something pages of regulations and procedures for Colorado’s medical cannabis industry unveiled this week by the Department of Revenue is making some patients particularly nervous — the plan for a massive new database of patients who enroll in the Medical Marijuana Registry. The list will be available around the clock to law enforcement agencies.
Currently, the registry is maintained by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, reports Greg Campbell at Face The State, and it can only be accessed by police officers when they need to confirm the enrollment status of a person in custody.
The Cannabis Therapy Institute has called the new plans a violation of the Constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters which legalized medical marijuana 10 years ago.
“This patient and medicine tracking database is a clear violation of Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Constitution, Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Amendment, which requires that the health agency maintain a confidential registry of patients, which can only be accessed by law enforcement for the purpose of determining whether a person who has been detained is a member of the Registry,” the CTI said in a press release.
The new database would “provide law enforcement with 24/7 access to registry data,” said Fern Epstein, an information technology consultant hired by the Department of Revenue to analyze the state’s information needs.
“We need to involve the Colorado Crime Information Center, which is managed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation,” Epstein said, “and that would give access to officers on the street and in their patrol cars, access to the registry and Department of Revenue data.”
The regulations — which include a system for tracking marijuana “from seed to sale” in an effort to avoid its diversion to the black market — rely heavily on information technology.
Grow operations will be fitted with cameras that will be monitored by state regulators. Cameras will also track sales to individual patients at the cash register.
Patient advocates have long worried that such information would be used by police to target patients. Although legal for medicinal use in Colorado, marijuana is illegal for any purpose under federal law.
The rules will be adopted after a hearing which could take place as early as next month. Legal challenges to some parts of the new regulations are expected.
Meanwhile, a state health department’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee gave the go-ahead Wednesday to strict new rules for how Colorado approves new conditions which qualify for medical marijuana, reports The Denver Post.
The proposed rules require “rigorous studies” be published in research journals showing marijuana’s effectiveness in treating a certain condition before that condition would be considered.
In a divided vote Wednesday, the committee sent the rules to the Board of Health for final consideration next month.
Medical marijuana advocates say the standard is too strict, and leaves out some patients who would benefit from cannabis.