The Early Learning Council is the governing body that oversees the Early Learning System in Oregon. A recent council vote prohibits child care licensing for professionals who cultivate, distribute or use cannabis, regardless of whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes. Although there has been significant support for the measure, objections have also been raised.
New Rules Regarding Marijuana and Child Care
Several new regulations came with this ruling. For example, the council voted to prohibit adults child care employees from using marijuana while they interact with children at child care facilities. This applies to both registered medical marijuana patients and recreational users. At-home child care facilities cannot be run by patients holding medical cards or anyone who uses marijuana during business hours or in the presence of children. Furthermore, growing or distributing marijuana in child care facilities is prohibited. However, the Early Learning Council did vote to allow children who hold medical marijuana cards to be able to receive their medication while they are at the child care facility.
The board stated that in homes where adult medical marijuana users are present who are not child care providers, any marijuana on site must be kept inside the packaging in which it was purchased, and must be locked away so that children cannot access it. In addition to dried marijuana flowers and leaves, this regulation applies to paraphernalia, accessories and consumable cannabis infused products. All of the new regulations apply immediately, and will be applied to recreational use when it becomes legal in July. Governor Kitzhaber strongly agrees with the council’s decision. In a released statement Gov. Kitzhaber stated,
“Marijuana consumption should not and cannot be tolerated within a child care environment licensed by the state. We entrust our providers to maintain safe learning environments where our children can thrive.”
Objections from Medical Marijuana Proponents
Supporters of medical marijuana have raised objections to regulations from the Early Learning Council since August, when a temporary ruling of the same nature was approved. Although medical marijuana is classified as a Schedule 2 controlled substance in Oregon, similarly to a number of other narcotic pain medications, marijuana appears to have been singled out for prohibition in child care facilities. As medical marijuana proponents pointed out, opioid painkillers could just as easily, if not more likely to cause a child care provider to neglect the children.
Furthermore, the new laws could cause problems for parents who use medical marijuana when they drop children off or pick them up at child care.Medical marijuana proponent, Anthony Taylor, feels that this ruling is unjust. Taylor explained to the Oregonian,
“It marginalizes card holders and asks them to not just step to the back of the bus but to get off the bus altogether.”
Finally, Oregon has yet to ban marijuana use among other professionals that deal with children. People holding teaching positions and medical health care workers are not held to the same level scrutiny as these day-care workers. As a result, this could easily result in a lawsuit against the state.