Colorado has decided that the privacy of patient health records is negotiable and that this information needs to be shared with law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level on a 24/7 basis. All despite the Constitution of the State of Colorado and federal laws regarding medical records.
The state bureaucracy is moving forward with plans to take Colorado’s (currently) confidential medical marijuana registry and “integrate” it with law enforcement and tax office databases.
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board held a final meeting for the year on Monday, December 6. At that meeting, a (no doubt highly paid) consultant gave a presentation regarding what she believes will be required for the various state agencies to have full access to the medical marijuana patient registry and improvements that need to be made to the registry itself.
The plan is for the patient registry to be open and shared with several state and federal agencies including the Colorado Department of Revenue, Department of Public Health and Environment, and all local, state, and federal law enforcement including the DEA, FBI, Colorado Crime Information Center and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
This “data integration” will have one purpose: to ostracize and play Big Brother over the state’s medical marijuana patients and caregivers.
Of course, that’s not how they said it. The Tax Department (I mean.. Department of “Revenue”) says that this is so that patients are more easily identified by law enforcement during drug stings and to reduce wrongful arrests of those legally possessing marijuana.
Ya, right. Law enforcement has a stellar record, especially at the federal level, of recognizing patients’ rights when it comes to MMJ.
None of the bureaucrats have bothered to notice that the very idea of this setup requires a full amendment to change Colorado’s constitution. Currently, it reads:
(3) The state health agency shall create and maintain a confidential registry of patients who have applied for and are entitled to receive a registry identification card according to the criteria set forth in this subsection, effective June 1, 1999.
(a) No person shall be permitted to gain access to any information about patients in the state health agency’s confidential registry, or any information otherwise maintained by the state health agency about physicians and primary care-givers, except for authorized employees of the state health agency in the course of their official duties and authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies which have stopped or arrested a person who claims to be engaged in the medical use of marijuana and in possession of a registry identification card or its functional equivalent, pursuant to paragraph (e) of this subsection (3). Authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies shall be granted access to the information contained within the state health agency’s confidential registry only for the purpose of verifying that an individual who has presented a registry identification card to a state or local law enforcement official is lawfully in possession of such card.
(Constitution of the State of Colorado, Article XVIII, Section 14)
Note the use of the word “confidential” and the “No personal shall be permitted to gain access” bits. Seems pretty damn clear to me. You?
Except for the five or six minute presentation at the meeting, the rest of the information on these proposed changes are buried in a 90-odd page set of draft rules the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board unveiled. The current database is maintained by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and can only be accessed by police officers who are specifically requesting a “yes” or “no” answer to the question of a patient’s registry status.
The proposed reasoning and justification for the new All Seeing Eye Database* is pretty baseless (*my proposed name for the new database). A rule-making hearing next month will likely seal the deal unless patients and advocates in Colorado stand up and make some noise about this.
I suggest threatening lawsuits over the proposal’s constitutionality. Maybe suggesting a similar database be created for blood donors, transplant waiting lists, people with pacemakers, those with diabetes, and another list for politicians and bureaucrats who don’t do what the police think they should be doing. These sound just as reasonable to me. If we’re going to have a Big Brother Police State, let’s go all the way! Why pretend?