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Medical marijuana shuts down Salem daycare

In a profession where providers have had to fight for so long to be taken seriously, in-home daycares have just been set back because some Oregon providers have taken a pretty big hit. Yes, a big hit, from a bong half as tall as a preschooler.

Medical Marijuana is not a perscription
Medical Marijuana is not a perscription

In Salem, just a wisp away from the Portland Metro Area, the owner and manager of Alphabet Academy Learning ( Center have been caught on camera taking breaks from their jobs where they provide for other people’s children to take hits from a bong that’s more than a foot long. Owner, Moriah Jaeger and manager Charity Araujo have defended their stance stating that they have their medical marijuana cards and toking off of a big glass bong is the only thing that eases their migraines.

After multiple complaints to DHS and quick work by Koin6 reporter Carla Castano, an investigation was opened and the license for Alphabet Academy was suspended.

Parents are shocked. In an interview with Koin6 News, Katlyn White, a parent who had a child enrolled at Alphabet Academy Learning Center, was shocked that this was going on feet from where her son plays. “The idea of them being impaired and taking care of your son, that just doesn’t sit well with a parent,” White explained as she held her precious son close to her. She is no longer going to be taking her son to Alphabet Academy Learning Center even if they are reopened.

Now we’re left with a whole lot of finger pointing. Is this legal? If not, how did it happen? Whose head is going to roll for this?

Kathleen Hynes, the legal and compliance manager for the Office of Child Care explained that they didn’t have the information on whether or not it was legal to smoke pot with a medical marijuana card around the kids at a daycare.

The daycare workers with medical marijuana cards claim that they have a prescription and a card, so it’s just like any other medication. Both Araujo and Jaeger claim they are not the primary caregivers after smoking marijuana and whether or not they do is between them and their doctor.

Oregon State Rep. Julie Parrish and Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland are hitting the ground running to make specific legislation that would make smoking marijuana in daycares illegal. Parrish believes it’s already pretty clear that it’s illegal, stating, “You can’t invoke ‘medical marijuana card’ and take care of kids,”

The Oregon Administrative Rules are as follows:

For a Registered Family Child Care Home, the Oregon Administrative Rules state, “No one shall consume alcohol or use non-prescription controlled substances in the presence of children. No one under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription controlled substances shall be in the home when child care children are present.”

In a Certified Family Child Care Home, the OARs state, “No one shall consume alcohol or use non-prescription controlled substances in the certified family child care home during the hours the child care business is conducted. No one under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription controlled substances shall be in the home during the hours the child care business is conducted.”

As soon as medical marijuana was made legal in the state of Oregon, everyone knew that it was uncharted territory and that incidences that require specific legislation would continue to come up. As it stands now, the investigation is still underway. In the meantime, Alphabet Academy Learning Center has lost its ability to take state funded kids in the very least.

Clarification on the classification of medical marijuana is underway as well. In the state of Oregon, one can receive a medical marijuana card for the use of medical marijuana; however it is not treated as a prescription, so it does not fall under any laws that would protect it as such.

There are plenty of jobs that you cannot have if you have specific medical ailments or take certain prescriptions such as being a pilot or carrying a CDL. Caring for children is a very important job that requires a clear mind.

This investigation is sure to help set precedence for the child care industry in Oregon. Providers are coming together to help each other cope with the news and understand what to do next. Organizations such as PRO (Provider Resource Organization) are working tirelessly to make sure this news doesn't cause a negative ripple through the profession they have spent so long working to improve.

Until the investigation is further along, we won't know if it was a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation of the rules, or an oversight, but surely a standard will be set by the outcome.

Portland Preschool Examiner will be following the investigation closely.

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