Nearly three in four parents say marijuana dispensaries should be kept away from schools and 7 in 10 want to have a say in where they can open. Photo by Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock.
Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Now that medical marijuana is legal in 32 states and Washington, D.C., some parents are worried about the negative effect pot dispensaries may have on their kids.
Nearly three in four parents say marijuana dispensaries should be kept away from schools and seven in 10 want to have a say in where they can open, according to a new poll published by the University of Michigan.
Close to half the parents also were concerned about their kids staying safe from impaired drivers. And 49 percent worried that their teens would have easier access to pot, while 48 percent think it's possible that a child could find and consume edible marijuana left behind near the dispensary.
"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," Sarah Clark, poll director at the University of Michigan, said in a news 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."
Most of the parents want dispensaries to be regulated like liquor stores, which usually have to be located a certain number of feet away from schools.
"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 said. "When it comes to where dispensaries are located, many parents feel that any area near children is too close for comfort."
However, no state-to-state standardized framework exists to regulate where a dispensary can open up and how it has to operate, and fewer than 25 percent of the parents say their state has any regulation in place for dispensaries.
"Parents who want to share their views about dispensaries before any open in their school's neighborhood may have limited opportunities to do so. They may not even be aware that a specific dispensary location is under consideration until the decision has already been made," Clark said.
In all, the parents don't want while the parents want control over where the dispensaries can be located, three-fourths favor medical marijuana. And one-third of parents even think it should be available for kids.
"The lack of established standards may lead officials to enact policies that may not address parents' concerns," Clark said. "Parents who want to provide input about local dispensaries may need to take the initiative to learn about the rules for opening a dispensary in their community and what steps they should follow to be involved in these decisions."