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Pennsylvania medical cannabis regulators will cease making patient information available on the state’s law enforcement computer systems in an effort to reduce the chances that a registered medical cannabis patient will be flagged during a federal background check when purchasing a firearm, the Associated Press reports.

“Medical marijuana is an important medication for Pennsylvanians suffering from serious medical conditions. It’s essential that we treat medical marijuana as we would any other medication, and that we protect patient privacy in the process. As with any other health information, patient information regarding medical marijuana is not accessible to police.” – Health Department spokeswoman April Hutcheson to the AP

Instead of having the information in their computers, law enforcement officers in the state will have to rely on the state-issued medical cannabis cards to verify whether an individual is enrolled. Each card contains a state seal and expiration date.

Federal law prohibits registered medical cannabis patients are prohibited from purchasing or owning firearms because of its Schedule I status. The federal form required when purchasing guns specifically asks whether the purchaser is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana” or other illegal drugs, noting that “the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes” in the state the applicant resides.

There are more than 10,000 medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania. The program is set to commence early this year.

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