State doesn’t know source, size of cyber attack on medical marijuana registry

A hack of the state’s medical marijuana registry in December not only compromised patient names and social security numbers but also doctors’ recommendations, a state health official said today.

Lawmakers who sit on the Interim Finance Committee probed Joe Pollock, deputy administrator of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, today over the details of the breach and what was being done to prevent something similar from happening in the future. The committee allocated almost $125,000 in reserve funds today to pay for anticipated costs related to the breach of the registry, the size and source of which Pollock said may never be known.

Though the medical marijuana portal was recently restored after the December hack, the division is still dealing with the aftermath of the cyber attack, including providing free credit monitoring services and a call center for those affected by the breach and hiring a contractor to provide ongoing monitoring of vulnerabilities in the system.

Pollock confirmed that all of the information that was a part of that registry — from names, social security numbers and addresses to actual copies of doctors’ recommendations — would have been accessible through the hack.

He said that an investigation into the breach is ongoing and that the division will take necessary action on any recommendations that come out of it, in addition to having a contractor continue to look at the system “inside and out.” However, he said the division may never know exactly how much patient information was compromised.

“Whether we’ll be able to determine how many people accessed it, we don’t know and we may never know,” Pollock said.

Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer and Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick both voted against the appropriation. Kieckhefer voiced concerns over how the Trump administration plans to enforce federal law, under which marijuana remains a controlled substance.

Lawmakers also approved an almost $890,000 loan to the Department of Taxation to fund implementation of a ballot measure Nevada voters approved in November legalizing recreational marijuana.

Photo courtesy of Coleen Elliott under Creative Commons.