Hackers Attack Marijuana Dispensaries


There is a lot of paranoia about elections, electrical grids, and major political parties being hacked, but they are not the only targets. Software used by cannabis businesses in over 20 states was recently hacked and compromised.

The story was reported by the industry trade website Marijuana Business Daily as well as tech sites that monitor such attacks, including Hackbusters and DataBreaches.

The software, MJ Freeway, is used for “seed-to-sale” tracking of cannabis in states that have legalized or passed medical marijuana laws. The Denver-based company said its main servers and backup system both went down the morning of Jan. 8 and remained offline until the next afternoon.

The outage, caused by unknown hackers, sent 1,000 retailers nationwide “scrambling to handle everything from sales and inventory management to regulatory compliance issues,” Marijuana Business Daily reported.

Some dispensaries had to completely close their business during the outage according to High Times.

The Boston Globe reported that New England Treatment Access, with locations in Brookline and Northampton, was among the outlets affected by the hack. A message on its website said transactions would take longer than usual at both locations because staffers would need to “conduct certain sales functions manually.”

“It was a cyber-attack, and it was targeted at us specifically,” said Jeannette Ward, MJ Freeway’s executive director of data and marketing, in an interview Monday. “We are going full-force with a forensic investigation, and we’ll turn over the results to criminal investigators as needed.”

Ward said encryption prevented the hackers from stealing personal data about MJ Freeway’s retail clients. And the company emphasized that the attack affected only its currently operational system—not the new software it is just beginning to market. With nearly perfect timing, the new software is expected to be operational later this month.

(Article by Jeremiah Jones)