Buying legal pot? You might want to pay cash

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / SoruEpotok

The latest advice from Canada’s Privacy Commissioner suggests Ontario pot users may want to wait until retail stores open before buying legal cannabis.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien is advising Canadians to pay cash if they plan to buy legal cannabis and are concerned about their personal information being passed along to a third-party.

A statement Monday from Therrien aimed at educating consumers and retailers said, “Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside Canada. 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.”

His statement recommended consumers not use credit cards when buying pot, and ask the retailer how personal information is stored.

Personal information includes names, dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, medical information, and credit card numbers.

“Cannabis retailers must protect the personal information in their custody or under their control by making appropriate security arrangements to prevent unauthorized access,” continued the statement. “Personal information can only be used for the purpose for which it was originally collected and should only be kept for as long as necessary to fulfil that purpose.”

Therrien also said retailers should refrain from collecting the personal information of its clientele as much as possible and using email addresses instead of names for mailing lists.

He also recommended not using video surveillance unless absolutely necessary.

“It is important to note that capturing an individual’s image or voice constitutes a collection of personal information. Retailers should only use video surveillance if less privacy-intrusive measures cannot achieve the same ends. If retailers chose to use video-surveillance, they must notify individuals with signage that is clearly visible to anyone before entering the store. That way, individuals can choose to shop elsewhere.”

In Ontario, legal cannabis is only available online at the Ontario Cannabis Store. Unlike other provinces, consumers do not have the choice to pay cash until retail stores open April 1.