With Chicago medical cannabis dispensaries 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.

 

The spurt of marijuana dispensaries in the USA

Seven in 10 parents think they should have a say in whether Chicago medical cannabis 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. 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.

 

The regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries

Most parents (77 percent) agreed that Chicago medical cannabis dispensaries should have the same regulations as liquor stores for where they can be located. Meanwhile, 52 percent of parents said dispensaries should have the same rights as other businesses. Nearly all parents (90 percent) felt dispensaries should undergo inspections to ensure they are following all regulations.

 

Nearly half of parents (45 percent) said that medical marijuana is legal in their state, and 24 percent knew there was at least one medical marijuana dispensary in their community. Only 20 percent reported that their state or community has regulations about where dispensaries can be located, while 59 percent did not know if such regulations exist. While most parents wanted to be consulted about locating a dispensary near their child’s school or daycare, this may prove difficult, Clark says. There is no consistent state or local framework to regulate the location and operations of dispensaries. Some states may have added legal complexities differentiating the sale of medical versus recreational marijuana.