- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The governor of Oregon signed marijuana legislation into law Monday barring the state’s recreational weed dispensaries from keeping records on their customers, effectively safeguarding shoppers against potential federal interference.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed Senate Bill 863 into law as expected Monday, a week after the bill was easily passed in the Oregon House of Representatives by a 53-5 vote.

“I think it’s appropriate under the circumstances,” Ms. Brown said of the bill afterwards, The Oregonian reported.

The legislation prohibits Oregon’s legal pot shops from keeping keeping or transferring customers’ personal information, including names, birthdates, addresses and other data typically gleaned from the government-issued identification cards individuals are asked to provide prior to each purchase.

Oregon is among the few states in the country where adults can legally buy and use marijuana for recreational purposes, but weed’s future legal status there and elsewhere has been called into question upon President Trump’s appointment this year of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has spoken out adamantly against legalizing marijuana, medical or otherwise.

Federal law is “not eviscerated because the state ceases to enforce it in,” Mr. Sessions said last month. 

While the Trump administration has failed so far to take action against any of the over two dozen states with legal marijuana laws, Oregon’s newest legislation would limit the federal government’s ability to seek information concerning dispensary shoppers and their purchases since the bill prevents pot shops from keeping those records in the first place.

“Given the immediate privacy issues … this is a good bill protecting the privacy of Oregonians choosing to purchase marijuana,” Republican state Rep. Carl Wilson, a supporter of the legislation, said prior to last week’s House vote.

Dispensaries regularly collect personal information while inspecting government-issued identification cards such as driver’s licenses during the course of verifying their customers’ age, then use that data in some instances for marketing purposes or other promotional reasons. Under SB 863, however, pot shops are required to purge customer data within 48 hours of a shopper’s last purchase, and must destroy any information currently bing stored within 30 days of the legislation taking effect.

Eighty-three percent of Americans surveyed recently support legalizing medical marijuana, compared to 49 percent who favor legalizing weed altogether, according to the results of a Yahoo/Marist poll published Monday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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