Dear Stoner: Does the MED track recreational sales to customers? I've seen a few people online recently claiming it does, but I don't know what to believe anymore. I just don't want to be in some computer somewhere as a criminal because I buy a joint after work on Friday.
Perry N. Oid
Dear Perry: Relax, man. The state doesn't keep any record of who purchases what. As far as we can tell, the current rumor stems from the marijuana-use study that the state released last July. Someone got it in their head that because the Medical Enforcement Division did a study in which it estimated the marijuana usage in Colorado, the state was tracking all purchases. But the report was merely an estimate based on a number of different studies. For example, the number of moderate, light and heavy users in this state came from estimations based on the federally funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health. A 2011 Canadian report also provided some stats, as did a web-based study conducted by the Marijuana Policy Group. The only research on actual Colorado customers was done by a single shop in Denver, which only kept track of whether someone buying marijuana was from in state or out; the shop didn't even keep the customers' names or records on what they bought — or how much.
Amendment 64 made it clear that the state can't keep a database of patients; that's why the receptionist at every recreational shop we've visited simply gave our ID a look much like a bar bouncer would and then let us in the door. Nobody kept any information, and I'm pretty sure the more-baked-than-us doorman wasn't remembering anyone's names to enter into a database at the end of the day. While we have heard that some of the high-volume shops keep a record in their own computer system so that they won't sell more than an ounce a day to someone or for marketing campaigns like those of Safeway or Argonaut, we wouldn't give those kinds of shops our business anyway.
You are on camera, though. In fact, on lots of cameras — with images fed straight to the MED. And law enforcement can access those cameras. Sound scary? It's really not. Cops are only going to watch those vids if there's a robbery, and logistics and dwindling budgets mean that unless there is something like a robbery, the video data is going to be deleted as soon as legally possible. But if you're so far down the rabbit hole that you think Colorado law enforcement is going to start watching tapes of legal pot purchases and arrest people for buying legal pot, probably nothing we've said above is going to sway you. In that case, we highly suggest growing your own.