Marijuana advocates call for shutdown of police database and more
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been illegally sharing confidential patient information through an online database, and the only way to prevent more breaches is to shut it down immediately.
Photos and more below.
That's the contention of activists organizing a protest at tomorrow's state Board of Health meeting -- and their argument is bolstered by a damning report from the state auditor and a database agreement obtained through an open-records request. See both documents and get details about the claims below.
Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho and Kathleen Chippi of the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project are listed as co-authors on an emergency petition calling for the database to be disabled; we've shared that document as well. According to Kriho, the main focus of tomorrow's event is "disabling the access of the police to the registry. Our petition says now that the registry has been compromised, we want you to destroy it and start over with something that actually is confidential."
We first wrote about efforts to establish computer access to the state's marijuana registry database for police in May 2012. As our William Breathes noted at the time, House Bill 1284, the medical marijuana regulatory measure passed in 2010, charged the state with developing a tracking system that funnels information from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division into a database accessible by local law enforcement needing to verify legal status.
The auditor's report reveals that the final version of the system, described as an "automated interface between the Registry and the Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC), a statewide computer system that delivers criminal justice information to law enforcement agencies," went live in April. But the document suggests that the data available through this interface may go beyond simply registry confirmation by providing law enforcers access to details like the number of plants and amount of cannabis a given patient is allowed to possess. This particularly concerns Kriho, since the CCIC computer is part of a national law enforcement database -- and as we know, marijuana remains illegal in all quantities and for every use at the federal level.
Here's an excerpt from the report:
A 2011 photo shows stacks of medical marijuana-related applications.
It is not clear that Public Health has constitutional authority to provide information about patient plant and ounce counts through the Registry-CCIC interface. The Colorado Constitution [art. XVIII, sec. 14(3)(a)] specifies that law enforcement shall be granted Registry access "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." In the 2000 Blue Book, Amendment 20 proponents reiterated that law enforcement could access the Registry "to verify that an individual who is arrested for the possession or use of marijuana is registered" with Public Health. Knowing the quantities of medical marijuana that patients and their caregivers can legally possess does not appear to be necessary to verify that an individual is lawfully in possession of a red card.Also worrisome to Kriho and other advocates is a section of the auditor's report labeled "Confidentiality Breaches."
Continue for more about tomorrow's protest, including additional photos and three original documents.