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Medical MJ and HIPAA
March 25, 2009 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering about medical marijuana use in California and to what degree it is covered by health information privacy laws (HIPAA). I ask because my profession is regulated by a state licensing board (and an ethics board, and a national ethics board, etc. etc.) and I want to know if the Board of Behavioral Sciences could ever have access to my medical information if I were to have a card for medical MJ (this is assuming that I am only registered with the state as a legal patient, not ever picked up by the cops for any reason or have anything close to a criminal record, which I already know would get my licensing taken away). I have been searching info on medical MJ and HIPAA but have not been able to find anything conclusive. Throwaway email is anony01234@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
 
I would be surprised if a federal law (HIPAA) covered patient privacy for something that is, under federal law, illegal.

At the very least, it sounds like it would be a fascinating test case, rather than established law.

I think it's more likely that California law might cover your privacy in this case.
posted by zippy at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2009


Why would they look at it if they could get you to turn it over on your own. All they need to do is require you to turn over the information at pain of losing your license.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2009


A similar situation went to trial a couple of years ago. Looks like the feds agree to privacy. Regardless, its a gray area. I would consider legal synthetic THC as an alternative if you want to protect yourself.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:45 AM on March 25, 2009


Access to medical marijuana in California requires a doctor's recommendation, but it is not a prescription. You could ask your doctor to not put that information in your medical record. It is not something that insurance companies cover at this point, so would not go through any medical billing systems. I would recommend talking to your doctor about what kind of information he or she would be including in your medical record.

Medical cannabis is legal in California, and any state licensing board would be aware of that. You'd have an interesting law suit if they tried to take action, at any rate.

The experts on medical cannabis in California are Americans for Safe Access. Here's their advice on confidentiality. I would suggest calling them directly if you still have questions.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:18 AM on March 26, 2009


Fixed link: Americans for Safe Access
posted by gingerbeer at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2009


Access to medical marijuana in California requires a doctor's recommendation, but it is not a prescription. You could ask your doctor to not put that information in your medical record. #

Exactly. Because medical records are becoming computerized, my doctor is careful about what information he puts in there. Ask your doctor to leave that stuff off.

Also you don't know how the future will turn out. The laws in California could change and the list of MJ card holders could become public or 'leak' out. When records are kept, there is always a risk of that information being released. (The whole recent A-Rod steroid came out because drug test records weren't properly destroyed. Not that he should get away with it. I'm glad the truth is out.)
posted by madh at 11:46 AM on April 23, 2009


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