Kids & cannabis: Majority of parents say dispensaries should not be near schools

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Marijuana continues to be normalized in society, with nearly two-thirds of U.S. states legalizing the substance in recent years. The pros and cons of cannabis culture in America can be debated from a number of different perspectives, but the results of a recent national poll make the feelings of one important demographic perfectly clear. Despite the growing acceptance of marijuana, the majority of American parents (roughly 70%) don’t want cannabis dispensaries located anywhere near their local schools and daycare centers and believe they should have a say in such decisions.

About half of surveyed parents expressed concerns about the risks associated with marijuana users driving while impaired in areas frequented by children. Alarmingly, a separate set of previous research had found that over half of marijuana users for chronic pain management admit to driving while high.

“Medical marijuana has become legal in the majority of states but there is wide variation in state and local policies that regulate the location and operation of dispensaries,” says Sarah Clark, co-director of the Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, in a release. “The majority of parents feel strongly that they should give local input on decisions regarding where dispensaries may open and also support limitations on how close dispensaries could be to children’s areas.”

Aside from impaired driving, the leading concerns for parents included children finding edible cannabis candies and ingesting them (48%). Another 49% said they’re concerned about teenagers having easier access to cannabis products, and 45% believe dispensaries set a bad example for kids. Finally, 35% expressed concern about dispensaries leading to a violent crime uptick in the local area.

Surprisingly, despite these concerns, about three-quarters of respondents still support the legalization of medical marijuana. Only 26% of surveyed parents opposed medical marijuana.

“Most parents seem to understand that marijuana can have legitimate medical benefits, but parents also have major concerns about the risks that medical marijuana dispensaries might pose to children,” Clark says. “When it comes to where dispensaries are located, many parents feel that any area near children is too close for comfort.”

The majority of parents also believe (77%) that dispensaries should be subject to the same regulations imposed on liquor stores. However, 52% of parents believe that dispensaries should enjoy all of the same rights as any other business. Additionally, nine out of 10 respondents feel that dispensaries should undergo routine inspections.

So, have dispensaries already made their way into most parents’ communities? Almost half of respondents say medical marijuana is already legal in their state, and 24% are already aware of a dispensary in their community. Only 20%, though, say their state or community has any type of regulations put in place regarding where dispensaries can be located.

The research team also noted that parents are probably in for a long and complicated process in order to make their voices heard regarding these matters; citing a lack of overall regulations, and other complications tied to the distinction between medical / recreational marijuana sales and state/local policies.

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Ben Renner

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