Canadian law requires cannabis buyers to present a valid ID for verification before one buys recreational or medical cannabis. However, some retail stores are going a step further and scanning the IDs of their customers.
Such scanning isn’t provided for in the law, and the stores doing so are using that information for their own purposes. For example, some may use the collected data to track buyer behavior.
The danger in scanning cannabis buyers’ IDs is that there is still a lot of stigma attached to cannabis users. It would therefore be very damaging if the data collected by the marijuana retailers is accessed by hackers and leaked online.
Fears about unauthorized access to this data aren’t unfounded because some incidents have already come to light. For example, Canada Post revealed that there was a security breach in which the data of 4,500 cannabis buyers in Ontario was illegally accessed. This happened barely a fortnight after recreational weed became legal in Canada.
The personal data of cannabis buyers can also be used for other purposes, such as identity theft, by criminals who may decide to target the databases of the weed retailers.
The constant threat of being denied entry into the U.S. if you are found to be involved in the cannabis industry also hangs above Canadians. Having your ID scanned could allow U.S. immigration authorities to get proof that you buy and consume cannabis, something that could result in a lifetime entry ban.
It is such concerns that have prompted legal experts like Caryma Sa’d (a cannabis lawyer) to start the conversation about ID scanners in cannabis retail stores.
In response to the voices raised on this matter, one retail store in Toronto (PEI Cannabis) stopped using the scanners which they had reportedly been using “to check for fake IDs.”
Other stores claim that scanning one’s ID is optional, but they aren’t willing to assert that they notify their customers about their right to decline before the ID is scanned.
The onus may therefore be on each customer to take the necessary precaution of preventing their personal data from being collected and stored when such data collection doesn’t have any legal basis. Cannabis users in the U.S. would also be well advised to take the hint and protect their personal data more jealously, especially now when the federal government is still adamant that marijuana remain a Schedule 1 restricted substance.
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