Mendocino County… A Cultivated Crisis Of Confidentiality

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Chapter 9.31 has always been intended to be treated and held by the County of Mendocino as confidential medical information to the fullest extent authorized by California and Federal law

 

Yesterday the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors accepted a change to the county’s federally frowned upon medical marijuana ordinance – Chapter 9.31 of the Mendocino County Code (also referred to as the 99 program). In an attempt to keep the feds at bay and away from their County records — changed a few words as a means of shielding its programs participants from any federal action. Mendocino County consider any and all information generated by the County on prop 215 patients as confidential.

As it was initially drafted, the verbiage would have designated the patient information collected and utilized under 9.31 As “confidential medical information”, instead the board omitted the language that refers to medical pot use.

Initially, the suggested change read, “… the County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors hereby finds and declares that all medical marijuana use information received by and/or generated by the operation of Chapter 9.31 has always been intended to be treated and held by the County of Mendocino as confidential medical information to the fullest extent authorized by California and Federal law from 2008 to the present as well as prospectively.”

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The new accepted revision replaces the phrases “medical marijuana use”  with  a more general term, reading  “… all information received by …” and eliminating the sometimes volatile word “medical” from the end of the sentence, leaving the new completed text reading “… to be treated and held by the County of Mendocino as confidential information …”

“Is this really necessary?” Mendocino counties 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches inquired, mentioning that the intent of the original ordinance was initially identical, questioning whether or not HIPAA (the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) didn’t already make the information confidential.

County Counsel Tom Parker answered that “HIPAA does not provide that kind of coverage from a legal perspective.”

He said the county was instead relying on Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which he said specifies that “medical marijuana information is medical information and is confidential.”

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Until last March that is… by the spring of 2012 – after a threat of federal litigation, medical marijuana collectives could apply to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office for permits to grow up to 99 plants, an exemption from the county’s limit of 25 plants per parcel. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in October issued subpoenas for records the county keeps regarding 9.31.

The ordinance was originally adopted in 2008, then revised in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Source – Ukiah Daily Journal

  

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