Personal Finance

Colorado’s Pot Plan: Orwellian Surveillance or Sound Law Enforcement?

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Here’s a news item that makes me sit back and scratch my chin: Colorado lawmakers and regulators are creating the nation’s first surveillance system to track the sale of medical marijuana. The state will use video cameras to track pot sales. It’s also considering additional tracking measures including fingerprints of prescription holders and radio frequency chips on pot plants.

The goal is to make sure that pot buyers actually have prescriptions and that customers buy only the prescribed amount.

“It’s akin to the protections that are in place for pharmacies or a wagering line at a horse or dog track,” Matt Cook, director of medical marijuana enforcement for the Colorado Department of Revenue, told the The Denver Post. “You need to maintain the public confidence in what is going on, and the only way to do that is through these systems.”

Hmmm. I have to admit, this puts me over a barrel. Because honestly, I can see both sides. I understand the need to bolster public confidence, but I think that fingerprinting and RFID chips may be a bit extreme.

My immediate response is skepticism. You see, I like my privacy. I simply don’t like the thought of cameras tracking me as I buy stuff. Nor do I like the idea of a state-run system that links my personal information and my purchasing history together in the same database. Pharmacies do this now. But we should seriously consider how to protect privacy before we go expanding such tracking willy-nilly, especially when it’s done by the state.

And I really don’t like systems that record the fingerprints of innocent people. Normally, fingerprints are taken from people suspected of breaking the law. And since it’s legal to buy medical marijuana in Colorado, gathering such data teeters dangerously in the direction of state-sponsored spying.

On the other hand … Read More »

Image by LR PTY, via Flickr

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  • Dennis

    the only fingerprinting i have found is a system that is intended to protect patient privacy. no personal information is entered into the system, according to their site, and it’s not even state run, it’s independent. all it does is make sure that all the pot is accounted for and to make sure patients aren’t buying more than the legal limit. it doesn’t even keep a copy of the print, just a pattern, thats it. just google biotrackthc you should be able to find it.

    and while i agree the fingerprinting is kinda weird seeing how it’s used for criminals, but i would prefer an anonymous fingerprint to video surveillance. i mean if using my fingerprint means that the state doesn’t know who i am and i’m just a pattern to them and they can’t get at my records without me their with my finger i’m all for it. thats just me though, though most people hear fingerprint and think name address social etc. i don’t think thats the case here.

    later
    -Dennis

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