California recreational marijuana dispensaries are collecting customers’ personal information – including government identification documents as well as what products they buy – even though the record keeping is not part of Proposition 64, the state law voters approved in November 2016.
Collection of the data raises concerns for some because it remains unclear how the federal government intends to respond to marijuana legalization, since the herb remains a controlled substance in U.S. statutes.
In contrast, Colorado and Oregon, states that also have legalized recreational use, banned collection of personal information. And officials in Washington, another state with legal weed, said building customer databases is not practiced there.
In addition to concerns about privacy and identity theft, the data collection also has caught the attention of Second Amendment proponents, because marijuana use by firearm owners is prohibited under federal law.
A check of vendors closest to Fresno County (which has no recreational marijuana outlets) found none where a customer profile was not kept on dispensary computers. That includes an outlet in Woodlake in Tulare County as well as dispensaries in Stanislaus County, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Sacramento and the Bay Area.
When asked why customer profiles were created, several dispensary workers incorrectly stated the information was required under Proposition 64. Others cited it as a customer convenience. All said a customer who did not agree to the terms would be turned away. None of those queried would agree to provide a last name to a Fresno Bee reporter.
In Woodlake, a man who identified himself as the manager of Valley Pure, the first recreational dispensary in Tulare County, cited state law for the data collection. He would not identify himself and said inquiries about the data collection constituted “harrassment.”
Jason Finfrock, the reported owner of Valley Pure, said Thursday that he would have no comment on the issue.
At the Green Door in San Francisco, an employee said, “We will only ring you up if you come up on our profile.”
At Canna Cruz in Santa Cruz, a man who gave his first name as Ian said the information was required by law and added, “if a person didn’t want to do that, we would suggest they not shop at our dispensary.”
Similar responses came from workers at Flavors, in the Stanislaus County town of Riverbank, at People’s Remedy in Modesto and Alpine Alternatives in Sacramento.
By: Jim Guy, Fresno Bee