|Patient privacy is compromised as a Denver resident finds medical marijuana patient information in an alley
Medical marijuana patient records allegedly from the Apothecary of Colorado, a dispensary, were found in an alley in Denver on Tuesday.
The records were found in a binder and include medical marijuana patient applications, medical condition information, Social Security numbers, and copies of drivers licenses and birth certificates.
The records were discovered by Denver resident Harold Morton in a box next to his dumpster, reports Dave DeLozier at 9News.com.
|Harold Morton found the patient records and turned them over to Denver Police.
When Morton walked past a dumpster, he saw a thick blue binder in a cardboard box. “I picked the book up and I opened it and right away, I noticed the top of each page: medical marijuana registry forms,” Morton said. “The next thing I noticed is there is all these people’s personal information on each one of those sheets.”
The binder contained the personal and medical information of dozens of patients.
Morton said he was going to deliver the binder to the Denver Police Department. He said his concern is for the patients with information in the binder.
“I thought people should know all this information was loose, lying in an alley in Denver,” he said. “I’ve had problems in the past with identity theft myself and that was my first thought, that all of these people’s identities could or already have been stolen.”
Adam Stapen, an attorney for Apothecary of Colorado, said their patient records are “kept under lock and key to protect privacy of patients.” He said the current owners bought the dispensary on July 1 and it is possible the patient records are from before that.
“This is really upsetting that patient personal information, their medical records, could be so carelessly discarded and left for others to find,” said Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman, who represents Denver.
“Not only does it raise the specter of identity theft, but it also compromises people’s personal medical information,” Sen. Steadman said. “This is something the Legislature probably will be debating come next month.”
|Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project
It is unclear whether the records found yesterday were the only ones that were leaked from the Apothecary of Colorado, according to the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project. “There could be other binders of patient information that were found but not reported,” the group said in a news release.
“All patients who shopped at the Apothecary at any time in the past are urged to contact their attorney immediately,” the group said. “Concerned patients should also contact the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project for further support.”
“This incident highlights the need to secure the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry in one place, on one computer that is not accessible by any internal or external network,” the group said. “According to the Constitution, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is legally the only entity that has a legal right to possess these records.”
Colorado’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment, passed by voters in 2000, requires that the CDPHE maintain a confidential registry of patients that can be accessed by the health department only for the purpose of determining whether a person who has been detained by law enforcement is a member of the Registry, according to the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project.
“There is no authority in the Constitution for any other agency or dispensary to keep copies of these records,” the group said.
However, HB 10-1284, a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature this year, actually requires dispensaries to keep patient records.
Medical marijuana patients have always faced serious discrimination in employment, health insurance, housing, child custody cases, veteran benefits and many other areas, according to the group, which was the reason confidentiality was written into the Constitution as the backbone of the right to safe access to medicinal cannabis.
“We call on the state Legislature to pass emergency legislation that will immediately guarantee the security of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry,” said Kathleen Chippi, member of the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project.
“Coloradans have trusted the state to keep this information safe, and the state has failed miserably,” Chippi said.
Chippi maintained that the state’s plan to create a massive government database and surveillance system to track and record every patient transaction from “seed to sale” will also violate patient privacy rights.
Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project
PO Box 1794
Nederland, CO 80466
Phone: 1-888-EAT HEMP (328-4367)
Email: [email protected]