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Washington May Require Fingerprint ID for Cannabis Purchases

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In a recent meeting of Washington’s Senate Labour and Commerce Committee, it was suggested that biometric identification could be introduced for citizens wishing to purchase cannabis or alcohol products.

Plans for an opt-in biometric age verification process for the purchase of cannabis and alcohol products were put forward at the meeting.

The biometric verification would consist of a biometric scan – of a fingerprint for example – that would be used to find an already recognised and already uploaded state issued ID.

Authority on implementing this process would be given to the State Liquor and Cannabis Board, however, data would be stored by a third party and not by vendors.

The technology is already in use at sports events to “improve the flow” of customers buying alcohol at games. Marc Webster, Director of Legislative Relations, Liquor and Cannabis Board, said that the thought behind the process is that it would enable an increase of customers and can reduce the “mental math” at point of sale in figuring out a customer’s age.

Justin Nordhorn, Director of Policy and External Affairs, said although the agency was neutral on the matter, there are some perceived risks: “The concern that we have, in some sense, is the fact that these are private companies – so that’s not government issued.

“What is the oversight and how can we have confidence that that software is going to be utilised in such a way that it would provide that consistent mitigation? I think there’s some really good companies out there but then you know, when we open this up, there’s questions about what it would look like coming in.”

He went on to say: “The accuracy of that technology is of concern. How can we know that it’s accurate…

“As far as the rules go, we don’t believe we’re in a good position right now to develop those rules without some statutory framework put in place.”

Considerations that would need to be taken into account include the accuracy and oversight of the technology, staffing implications, cost for licensees and consumers, impact on tribes and other state agencies and the impact on medical cannabis patients and controlled purchase programmes.It was suggested in the meeting that the process could be trialled as part of a pilot programme.

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