Cannabis buyers who are concerned about using credit cards should use cash if possible, the federal privacy commissioner said in a strongly worded statement Tuesday.
“Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside of Canada,” the statement warns.
“The personal information of cannabis users is therefore very sensitive. For example, some countries may deny entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis, even lawfully.”
“If you are concerned about using your credit card, and the option is available, consider using cash to purchase cannabis.”
(In much of the country, that’s easier said than done, though. B.C. has one legal cannabis store, Quebec has only 12 stores to serve a population of over eight million, and Ontario won’t have any at all until April of next year, at which point it will open only 25.)
In mid-October, U.S. border officials said they might bar Canadians from the U.S. for legal marijuana use in Canada if a border officer decides they are likely to consume it in the United States. U.S. law allows them to bar people for life for past marijuana use, even if it was legal where it happened.
However, U.S. immigration lawyers who follow the issue say that since Oct. 17, that seems not to be happening in practice. The only known case of a Canadian being barred from the U.S. for cannabis-related reasons since legalization involved a B.C. man who had invested in a growing facility in Nevada.
Cannabis sellers shouldn’t record data about buyers if it can be avoided, the statement says:
“One way to minimize the possibility of disclosure to foreign governments (given that cannabis use is not legal in most other jurisdictions), and reduce the impacts of a data breach, or other incidents that reveal purchasers’ names or other personal information, is to refrain from recording customers’ personal information.”
Sellers should also pay attention to where the customer data they do have is stored.
Customers, for their part, should ask sellers what country their data will end up in, and boycott sellers who don’t give them a good answer.