- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lawmakers in Oregon overwhelmingly passed a measure aimed at protecting customers of the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries as politicians prepare for potential pushback from President Trump.

The Oregon House of Representatives voted 53-5 in favor of a bill Monday that bars state pot shops from collecting personal information from customers without their consent, effectively ensuring the federal government can’t compel owners to divulge details concerning their clientele.

The bill survived the state Senate last month and is expected to be signed imminently by Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

While state law allows adults in Oregon in legally buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries, the federal government continues to consider the plant to be a Schedule 1 substance on par with heroin and ecstasy.

Amid lingering uncertainties concerning the Trump administration’s attitude on weed, lawmakers in Oregon and other states with legal pot are looking to protect dispensary owners and customers alike from potential federal interference.

Existing law requires Oregon dispensaries only to verify a customer’s age, and “does not prohibit a retailer from retaining additional information about their customers,” said Republican state Rep. Carl Wilson, a supporter of the measure that overwhelmingly passed Monday’s house vote, SB 863.

Indeed, dispensaries typically collect information from customers’ driver’s licenses, passports and other forms of identification that are then used for marketing or other business purposes, according to proponents of SB 863.

Once signed by the governor, however, SB 863 will prohibit marijuana retailers from retaining their customers’ identifying information more than 48 hours after their last purchase, in theory making it making it more difficult for outside parties to learn about customer activity.

“Given the immediate privacy issues … this is a good bill protecting the privacy of Oregonians choosing to purchase marijuana,” Mr. Wilson said prior to Monday’s vote, The Associated Press reported.

“I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure that their personal identification information is not somehow compromised,” state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat, said previously.

Though the Trump administration has declined so far to take action against any state recreational or medical marijuana programs, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that he doesn’t particularly support either, and that federal law is “not eviscerated because the state ceases to enforce it in that state.”

Ms. Brown and the governors of three other states with legal marijuana wrote an open letter addressed to Mr. Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging the Trump administration not to hastily dismantle their respective marijuana laws.

“We understand you and others in the administration have some concerns regarding marijuana. We sympathize, as many of us expressed apprehensions before our states adopted current laws,” they wrote.

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