It’s been a year and a half since heroic hacker Edward Snowden touched off a global firestorm with the news that the government was collecting millions of telephone records, but if you think the government is up your ass now, wait until legislators in Washington state get their way. Officials in Spokane have proposed that use of marijuana, which is now legal in the state, be monitored via the collection and analysis of sewage.
On one hand, there are obvious benefits to such a plan, beyond the stated goal of using the data to make informed public health policy decisions. If successful, this could open up entire new revenue streams, as companies line up to pay for detailed analytics on other types of consumer consumption. Why, Mr. Peanut alone could help cash-strapped states close huge budget shortfalls.
In Eugene, Oregon, KMTR reporter Gary Chittim (yes, that’s his name) dishes out the straight poop and/or dope on the scheme, insisting that the proposed testing would be anonymous, but inadvertently identifying the perils of the plan with a bit of chillingly prescient wordplay:
“Don’t laugh, the proof’s in the potty.“
The proof is, indeed, in the potty, and there’s literally nothing to prevent this sort of data collection from being used by government agencies to monitor citizens’ marijuana use in states where the drug is not legal, and to use that information to target citizens for enforcement. Notice that nowhere in Chittim’s report are the words “search warrant” mentioned, evidence that no thought at all is being given to extending due process to our doo process. This is the kind of slippery slope that no one wants to go down.