Could a release of medical marijuana growers names be an invasion of privacy?

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Close up of marijuana growing within the compound. Taken by Ricardo Martinez II of Jabber Log

The election has come and gone but the one thing that has people talking, other than who was elected, is the recreational use and legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. On top of that, two more states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. A total of 18 states have now legalized medical marijuana and this continues to be a hot topic. It also continues to be a tricky law when it comes to law enforcement. Last month, the idea of releasing a list of growers to the police was brought up at a council meeting in Escanaba, MI.  Jabber Log was also able to meet with a local grower to express his feelings on the matter and how it could relate to an invasion of privacy.

According to dailypress.net, “Concerns regarding the state’s medical marijuana act has prompted Escanaba,” a city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, “to develop a resolution addressing local issues with the state legislation.” Mayor Pro Tem Brady Nelson addressed the law. The dailypress.net went on to say that Nelson has, “encouraged area municipalities to join the bandwagon in voicing concerns on the legislation enacted in 2008.”

Prior to this meeting, members of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, known as UPSET, gave a presentation on drug abuse. Former member of UPSET, Commander Lt. George Sailer of the Michigan State Police was quoted by dailypress.net as saying, “one issue with the medical marijuana law is that police do not have access to the names of people who have cards allowing them to grow marijuana. The state does not give out the names because of patient confidentiality and medical privacy rules, he said.”

Nelson, the mayor of Escanaba, “recommends individuals contact their state representatives, including the governor’s office, to allow local control on marijuana grows and to provide law enforcement with a list of who can legally grow marijuana here,” said the dailypress.net. Now, this is where we went to speak with a local grower, who will be referred to as Esteban, to see what his thoughts were on the idea of local control of marijuana grows and the release of a list to law enforcement.

“The agreement that you sign when you become a patient says that they won’t release this information to anyone. There is a reason that you don’t want this information released.” Esteban goes on to say that, “law enforcement is held to a higher standard but they are still human. A leak to the public; who’s to say that wouldn’t happen?” If the idea brought forth by Nelson were to become a reality in not only his city but throughout the entire state of Michigan, would it be considered an invasion of privacy? The freedictionary.com defines invasion of privacy as, “the intrusion into the personal life of another, without just cause, which can give the person whose privacy has been invaded a right to bring a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity that intruded.” The site goes on to define it as the, “intrusion on one’s solitude or into one’s private affairs.”

The use and regulation of medical marijuana will continue to be a hot topic. The idea brought forth by Nelson is just that, an idea, and a recommendation. What do you think and how do you feel about the release of a list of growers to local law enforcement? Should this be covered under medical privacy? The whole interview with Esteban has been included within this publication. His voice and name have been altered for this piece.