Can My Doctor See If I Visit A Recreational Dispensary?

In this question, the pharmacist will discuss whether a doctor can see if you visit a recreational dispensary, and if it will show up on their registry.
Can My Doctor See If I Visit A Recreational Dispensary?

Bobbi K. Asked

If you give up and do not renew your medical card, and end up going into a recreational dispensary does the doctor still see what you purchased ? Is it still on the registry they look up? Thanks


Recreational dispensaries don't share your purchase info with your doctor.
I strongly recommend you be open and honest about your cannabis use with your doctor.
Cannabis can interact with certain health conditions and other medications you might be taking.


Hi Bobbi, thank you for your question. Let’s discuss whether or not your doctor can see if you’ve been to a recreational dispensary, and if it shows up on their registry.

Cannabis and Privacy

As recreational marijuana becomes legal in an increasing number of states (23 currently), questions about privacy and the sharing of personal information are on the rise. One common concern among individuals who use recreational marijuana is whether their primary care physician (or other doctors overseeing their care) can access information about their purchases from a dispensary.

Dispensaries and Customer Data Protection

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that recreational marijuana dispensaries are businesses subject to certain regulations and privacy laws. Generally, these establishments operate under strict guidelines to protect customer information and maintain their confidentiality. In most states where recreational marijuana is legal, dispensaries are required to adhere to stringent data security measures. 

Marijuana dispensaries are generally not covered entities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States. However, it’s essential to note that some states have enacted separate privacy regulations specific to the cannabis industry. Therefore, your doctor should not have access to your recreational marijuana purchase history unless you voluntarily disclose it to them during a medical consultation.

Can My Doctor See I Purchased At A Recreational Dispensary?

While dispensaries do maintain records of purchases for regulatory and tax purposes, these records are typically not accessible to your doctor. Furthermore, most states have laws in place to prevent the sharing of customer data from dispensaries with healthcare providers or other entities, unless required by law enforcement for specific investigations. Your purchases in recreational dispensaries are not uploaded to their state’s PMP registry like they are in medical states, so you shouldn’t worry that it will show up. With that being said, while you may not want your doctors to know that you are using marijuana, I strongly recommend that you let all of your doctors know. Cannabis can interact with health conditions and other medications you might be taking. So it's important to be open and honest with your doctor about your cannabis use. 

Despite not being directly covered by HIPAA, many reputable marijuana dispensaries take data privacy very seriously and implement measures to protect customer information, such as purchase histories and other personal details. It’s essential to be aware of the laws and regulations governing recreational marijuana use in your specific state, as these may vary. If you have concerns about the privacy of your marijuana-related information, you can familiarize yourself with local regulations.

In Conclusion

Customers should be aware of the privacy policies and practices of the dispensaries they visit and inquire about how their data is handled to ensure their information is kept confidential and secure. I hope this helps!

  1. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) link.
  2. NYS ISTOP (Link).

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