With medical marijuana now legal in about two-thirds of U.S. states, there’s growing concern about how dispensaries may impact surrounding neighborhoods and communities.
And parents in a new national poll overwhelmingly agree on one place dispensaries should not be allowed: anywhere near children.
Seven in 10 parents think they should have a say in whether dispensaries are located near their child’s school or daycare and most say they should be banned within a certain distance of those facilities, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.
Highest on the list of concerns was the risk impaired drivers may pose to children — with nearly half of parents saying this was a significant worry. A recent study found that more than half of people taking cannabis for chronic pain report 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 poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H.
“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 the top concern involving drivers under the influence, some parents also worried about the possibility of a child finding and ingesting edible marijuana inadvertently left behind by a dispensary customer (48 percent), and teens having easier opportunities accessing marijuana (49 percent.) Other dispensary concerns included setting a bad example for kids (45 percent) and bringing violent crime to the area (35 percent).
Three quarters of parents indicated general support for legal medical marijuana, including one third of parents who support the option for children. Just 26 percent of parents opposed medical marijuana.
At the same time, most parents agreed that dispensaries should be banned within a certain distance of elementary schools, middle and high schools, and daycare centers. Forty-four percent of parents also believed dispensaries should not be close to places of worship. Support for such bans was equally strong among both mothers and fathers, younger and older parents, and parents of higher and lower income.
“Most parents seem to understand that marijuana can have legitimate medical benefits, but parents also have maj