Fears of being ‘outed’ as a cannabis user?

Lifetime bans on entering U.S. for past cannabis use is an overarching theme in consumer anxieties over potential breaches of cannabis purchasing data.

Aug 30, 2018 by Melanie Green and Perrin Grauer StarMetro Vancouver

VANCOUVER—Questions around how consumer data will be protected by cannabis retailers continue to loom large for some Canadians.

And those questions are becoming more complicated as legalization approaches and a number of key concerns remain unanswered.

"Peter," a web specialist living in Victoria, B.C., who asked his name be withheld for fear that admitting to being a cannabis user would affect his business relationships, said that, as with all online and electronic purchasing, consumers are right to worry about how their data is being protected.

"Your information is being passed over secure connections, but they're only so secure," he said in an interview. "You can build the best website with the best security and there are always bigger and better hackers than there are security (measures)."

But, he added, the cannabis industry faces a further challenge that tends to exacerbate consumer fears about data breaches: stigma.

Peter, who used to manage a marijuana dispensary, said many of his former customers did not want to be identified as cannabis users in any way. They would pay cash, he said, and shy away from any transaction that would create a paper trail. Regardless of the legal status of the plant, he said, stigma around cannabis use remains.

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