By: Cecil King
Protecting Medical Marijuana Patient Information
States that require medical cannabis patient registration and sales tracking to prevent diversion of product into the illegal market present many opportunities to compromise patients’ privacy.
Washington state’s new Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052) protects medial cannabis patients’ data with a Washington State Department of Health secure database. The new system went online July 1, 2016. No matter how secure a computer system, human error, lack of training or compliance knowledge can result in compromised patient data.
State certified Medical Marijuana Consultants, employed at a Medical Marijuana Endorsed retail store are the only authorized individuals allowed to enter a patient’s confidential information into the web-based system.
Patients have expressed concerns about the medical information they provide to Washington’s cannabis retailers.
“It has come to the attention of both the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and the Department of Health (DOH) that some third-party commercial traceability software systems are requesting patient information such as: conditions, history, and notes,” claims Timothy Gates, Marijuana Examiner Program Administrator.
Certified Consultants are the only persons who should see the information on the authorization forms to enter them into the database.
“All other retail employees are only to verify the recognition card by using the publicly available information on the recognition card itself and by verifying the card number in the DOH medical marijuana authorization database,” continues Gates in a memorandum to licensees.
Retail cannabis license holders are prohibited by law from soliciting or retaining patient information in third-party commercial software systems. Accessing or retaining any patient information from the DOH database could subject the person to a Class C felony under state law.
Owners and employees of retail cannabis shops in Washington with medical endorsements should have strong compliance procedures in place and regularly review the latest rules.
The state of Washington contracted with BioTrackTHC™, a seed-to-sale software tracking company, to build and run the state-wide cannabis production and sales “Traceability System”.
BioTrackTHC™ is a division of Bio-Tech Medical Software, Inc., a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida software development company that sells a biometric e-prescribing software system for hospitals, healthcare providers, and pharmacies in the United States. Having won five state contracts in Illinois, New Mexico, Washington, New York and Hawaii, and one county contract, BioTrackTHC™ has become one of the cannabis industry leaders in sales tracking.
Cannabis retailers in Washington are free to employ their own inventory tracking software solutions. Their third-party software must provide specific information and reports required by the WSLCB’s seed-to-sale inventory tracking system.
A state’s system must be robust enough to handle hundreds of simultaneous computer checks for expired or counterfeited medical ID cards, checks for over-dispensing medical cannabis to patients or caregivers, and protecting patients’ personal medical information.