Protection sought for marijuana patient information in lawsuit
A lawsuit filed Monday in Tulsa County seeks to stop the potential release of medical marijuana patient license information to Oklahoma law enforcement.
The lawsuit is in reaction to an announcement made recently by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority about what exactly will be shared with the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Changes included in Senate Bill 1030, set to go into effect Aug. 29, could include the release of some patient license information.
“SB 1030 requires OMMA to share information displayed on medical marijuana licenses with the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System,” the OMMA website summarized of the changes. “OMMA is currently evaluating implementation timelines for this data infrastructure.”
This summary comes from Section 4C of SB 1030, which says “The State Department of Health shall make available all information displayed on medical marijuana licenses, as well as whether or not the license is valid, to law enforcement electronically through the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.”
However, the bill also says in Section 4B, “Except for license information concerning licensed patients … the (Health) Department shall share information with law enforcement agencies upon request …”
This potential discrepancy between patient license information and other license information, such as businesses, is a concern for Whitney Wehmeyer, co-owner of Tulsa Higher Care Clinic Inc. and one of the nearly dozen plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The clinic’s network of doctors has worked with more than 100,000 medical marijuana patients, according to Wehmeyer. She doesn’t want those patients to have their information distributed.
“It’s a big deal to us because it’s a big deal to our patients,” Wehmeyer said. “If I went into a doctor and got pain pills today, I wouldn’t have the same problem (of patient information being released).
“Why should I have to wear a scarlet ‘C’ to say that I’m a medical cannabis user?”
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority released a statement regarding the lawsuit as it works to implement legislative requirements.
“In preparation of Senate Bill 1030 becoming effective next month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, is working diligently to balance privacy concerns regarding patient information as outlined in State Question 788 and the statutory obligation under SB 1030 to provide medical marijuana license information to law enforcement through the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System,” the statement said.
The defendants in the case are the Oklahoma State Department of Health and its Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.