Medical Marijuana and Background Checks
One question we hear is whether a medical marijuana “prescription” will show up on a background check. Many patients are concerned it could interfere with their job or other responsibilities or be unfairly judged for the medical treatment they are receiving. Firstly, no one should be condemned for trying to find adequate medical care. Second, the laws around medical marijuana are changing so quickly and vary by state so that many if not most people aren’t clear on exactly what the regulations are or supposed to be. So we will get into it with a broad overview that should calm your fears but also serve as a warning.
So to get back to the original question, the short answer is no, however the long answer is a bit more complicated. Let’s dive in:
HIPAA protects your personal medical information and records. It “protects” the fact that you are or are not prescribed medical marijuana. HIPAA does not technically protect the state registries of who has been granted a card. It varies by state, but each registry itself is under its own set of stringent restrictions that disallow almost everyone from accessing it. State employees are not allowed to access the information or share it with third parties. Dispensaries should only be able to look up the card number and whether it is valid or not. Police offers will not be able to see you are a medical marijuana patient right off the bat, but they will be able to access the registry to confirm whether you are patient or not if necessary.
Another concern that some people don’t consider is that Facebook and other social media sites will store and eventually share whatever you post, whether you intended for someone to see it or not. If you reveal personal health information on social media, it will get out there. If your registration status can be determined by an algorithm doing a google search and finding your Facebook posts, the police don’t need to bother with a background check.
Finally, the last item to mention is that no personal information like a social security number should be attached to your registration. This keeps people from cross referencing your information to figure out who is in the registry. If you are given the option and concerned about your privacy, use as few personally identifiable items as possible in relation to your registration. That is to say: if you are for example asked to pick a password, pin number, or user name, using one that you have used somewhere else before makes it much easier for someone to find every account/email/login you have and break into it, and that can lead to more serious issues even than a piece of your personal health information being revealed.
We hope that was helpful. To sum up: Your medical marijuana registration should not show up on any background checks, access to your registration is tightly controlled, but these laws are changing quickly and constantly so you will need to stay up to date and privacy concerns will be moot if you overshare on social media or use the same password for everything. Please be safe and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Here’s some useful links: