cross posted at mLaw

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has reported that the US Department of Justice secured a court order demanding that the state agency in Oregon that oversees the provision of medical cannabis to Oregonian patients who are suffering from serious, and in some cases, life threatening diseases to turn over records that personally identify patients, care givers and suppliers of the medicine.

The search warrant was filed in November of 2012 and requires the Oregon Medical Marijuana Project to turn over the names, addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers of “patients, growers and care givers in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program database files.”

The state officials who register patients and suppliers were ordered by the US Department of Justice to not disclose the existence or contents of the search warrant. The federal demand for patient records was discovered in public court filings.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program was concerned to ensure that Oregon patients understand that the agency’s patient records are stored in a secure location and cannot be accessed without a written request from a patient, in the same fashion that other sick American’s medical records are protected. The agency’s spokesperson said that while the privacy of the state’s medical cannabis patients is of paramount importance, the agency was compelled by the federal government to turn over the otherwise safeguarded patient identifying records.

The federal investigator who sought the demand for the patient’s records from the courts said in his request for the warrant; “I am familiar with narcotics trafficker’s tactics in using the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to shield their activities…(and I have) cause to believe that the records from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program will contain evidence of…conspiracy to commit marijuana and trafficking offenses.”

Patients who suffer from debilitating, chronic and terminal diseases have been able to receive prescriptions for medical cannabis from doctors in Oregon since 1998. During that period of nearly 15 years; during the final 2 years of the Bill Clinton presidency and over the 8 year course of the George W. Bush presidency, there are no previous warrants known to have been served upon the Oregon Medical Marijuana Project for patient’s private medical records by the federal government.

Photo by Earthworm under Creative Commons license