White House Anti-Drug Office Asks Massachusetts For Medical Marijuana Data

Article by Dan Adams, Boston Globe

White House Anti-Drug Office Asks Massachusetts For Medical Marijuana Data

An arm of the White House’s antidrug office has asked Massachusetts and several other states where medical marijuana is legal to turn over information about registered patients, triggering a debate over privacy rights and whether state officials should cooperate with a federal administration that appears hostile to the drug.

Dale Quigley, deputy coordinator of the National Marijuana Initiative, or NMI, has asked Massachusetts health officials for data on the age, gender, and medical condition of the state’s approximately 40,000 registered medical marijuana patients. Quigley is a former police officer in Colorado with a long history of speaking out against legalization.

The NMI is part of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative, a law enforcement effort directed by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In an interview, Quigley said the data are for a routine research project, in which he is looking for any correlation between how strictly states regulate medical cannabis and the rates of marijuana use among different age groups within the general public in those states.

He insisted that he is not seeking to identify patients and that his work doesn’t signal imminent changes to the current hands-off approach by the federal government to state-regulated medical marijuana operations.

“There are no black helicopters warming up in the bullpen,” Quigley said. “I have no idea where this is going to take us yet.”

But medical marijuana proponents said the mere notion that the Trump administration is nosing around medical marijuana could scare off patients, sending them to the black market for cannabis instead of registering with state-run systems that ensure medicines are tested for potency and safety. Patients did not consent to their data being used by the National Marijuana Initiative, they said, and can’t be sure their personal information was kept private.

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