A state board that oversees child care voted on Thursday to deny child care licenses to anyone who holds a medical marijuana card or who grows, uses or distributes marijuana – including recreational marijuana after it becomes legal July 1.
The Early Learning Council’s vote follows a six-month temporary rule, approved in August, that required child care providers to choose between their businesses or their medical marijuana cards.
Specifically, the revised rules that were approved Thursday:
Prohibit child care providers from holding medical marijuana cards
Prohibit child care providers from using any form of marijuana in a child care home during child care hours or when child care children are present
- Prohibit anyone under the influence of marijuana from having contact with child care children
- Prohibit anyone from growing or distributing marijuana on child care premises
- Permit children with medical marijuana cards to be medicated on child care premises
If a home-based child care facility is also the home of an adult who is not a licensed child-care provider and who uses medical marijuana, the drug must be kept locked up and in its original packaging if it was purchased from a dispensary. Any medical marijuana derivatives and paraphernalia also must be stored under lock.
The rules are effective immediately. Starting July 1, they also apply to recreational marijuana.
Gov. John Kitzhaber directed the Early Learning Council last year to address the issue, saying, “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,” according to a council document.
When the temporary rule was established last August, medical marijuana supporters objected, saying child care providers can use other medications legally, including narcotics.
Anthony Taylor, an advocate for medical marijuana patients, repeated that objection Thursday.
“Medical marijuana in Oregon is a Schedule 2 controlled substance and they didn’t prohibit anybody else that’s using a Schedule 2 controlled substance to manage pain or other conditions” from caring for children, Taylor said. “What happens if somebody succumbs to their morphine and falls asleep on the couch and some child has a respiratory difficulty and stops breathing? That’s at least as dangerous.”
Taylor said the rules also pose a problem for parents who may use medical marijuana, as they might be assumed to be under the influence when they show up to drop off or pick up a child.
He also called the rules discriminatory, saying other professionals who have regular contact with children, such as teachers and pediatric health care workers, have not been forced to choose between their jobs and their medical marijuana cards.
The real effect of the rules, Taylor said, is “it marginalizes card holders and asks them to not just step to the back of the bus but to get off the bus altogether.”
— Amy Wang