Article by Colin Perkel, City News
Canada’s privacy commissioner is planning to issue guidance for buyers and sellers of legal cannabis amid ongoing concern about potential fallout, such as being barred from the United States, if transactions become known by third parties.
The concern has been heightened in provinces where anonymously paying cash in-store is not possible in light of a controversial Statistics Canada initiative to obtain detailed bank records from all Canadians.
“Our office recognizes the sensitive nature of cannabis-related transactions — particularly if information about those transactions is processed in a jurisdiction where cannabis consumption is not legal,” said Tobi Cohen, a spokeswoman for the federal privacy commissioner. “Organizations need to make it plain to individuals that their information may be processed in a foreign country, and that it may be accessible to law enforcement and national security authorities of that jurisdiction.”
In Ontario, where the only way to buy marijuana legally is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store using a credit card, transactions show up as “OCS/SOC.”
Jesse, 39, of Toronto, who’s in marketing and who asked his last name not be used, said he has mixed feelings about “OCS/SOC” appearing on his credit-card statement.
“I’m not crazy about being potentially profiled at the U.S. border because of a purchase that’s thrown up in my credit history,” Jesse said. “At the same time, I’m not losing sleep over it because there’s no precedent (for that) yet.”
In the pre-legal era, online outlets usually masked credit-card purchases, perhaps by using a generic notation such as “Organics,” and some still do so now. However, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Cannabis Store said such an approach doesn’t fly.