WHEN I GO to a dispensary and they take my ID to "check me in," what information are they recording? Who has access to it? Am I on a list somewhere?
THE DISPENSARY is recording your name and birth date as required by the State of Oregon, which relays that information directly to the FBI.
Just kidding. In my pot lawyer travels, I have come across occasional misinformation—and some paranoia—about what is going on with the tracking of pot consumers' information in Oregon. I will give you a brief overview of what is being tracked and the rationale for that, and even draw some conclusions for you.
In a retail transaction, the dispensary is not required to record your name just yet, but it is required to jot down your birth date. Soon, under new administrative rules, both medical and recreational dispensaries will be required to maintain a "visitor" log, which contains "the first and last name and date of birth of every visitor and the date they visited." So yes, they will put you in a book.
Oregon likely wants to note and record this information for a couple of reasons. First, the state wants to confirm you are old enough to buy marijuana. It also wants dispensaries to ensure that you do not return later that day to buy more than the quarter ounce of weed that is presently allowed as a maximum daily purchase. (You might observe that this would not prevent someone from making a maximum purchase at each of several dispensaries in a given day. And you're right!) Finally, Oregon is probably interested in compiling demographics about who's buying all that weed. [UPDATE: See correction below.]
There also may be larger policy reasons the state is interested in collecting information on who buys pot. The federal government has stated through a directive called the Cole Memorandum that it will take a relaxed approach to states with good pot governance. And the crux of what the feds consider good pot governance is this: tight control of marijuana distribution.
In my opinion, even federal scrutiny does not compel rules requiring that each Citizen of the Empire submit her name before completing a commercial transaction that does not involve firearms. While most of us submit to tracking every time we buy something with plastic, it's nice to have the choice to remain discreet. Perhaps you agree.
Right now, there is no word on what the state will do with this recorded information, if anything. In theory, the names of consumers who are non-medical cardholders would be subject to public disclosure under the Oregon Public Records Law. This situation also raises interesting questions about transmission of data from dispensaries to third parties, like marketers.
The bottom line is that if you want to buy weed at the store, Oregon wants to know who you are. For better or worse, it seems that anyone else could figure it out too, unless you have a medical card.
CORRECTION: This article cites to OAR 845-025-1230(13), which reads, “A licensee must maintain a log of all visitor activity. The log must contain the first and last name and date of birth of every visitor and the date they visited.” The OLCC states that this provision is not intended to apply to members of the general public who visit the consumer sales area of a retailer. Instead, it applies to “visitors” who are not consumers, like contractors, vendors, laboratory personnel, service providers, etc. The OLCC intends to work on this provision during permanent rulemaking to ensure clarity. Similarly, the Oregon Health Authority confirms that its draft rule OAR 333-008-1110(9)(b) will be applied in the same manner for medical dispensaries.