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  • Our Opinion: Overreaction?

    Making day-care providers choose medical pot or their jobs appears unfair
  • Oregon's conflicted relationship with its medical marijuana law just got even more complicated, and home-based day-care providers with medical marijuana cards are suffering the consequences.
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  • Oregon's conflicted relationship with its medical marijuana law just got even more complicated, and home-based day-care providers with medical marijuana cards are suffering the consequences.
    Gov. John Kitzhaber last week declared that day-care providers should have to give up their marijuana cards if they want to keep their licenses. The governor has asked the Early Learning Council, which oversees early childhood education, to take steps to prohibit card-holders from being licensed child-care providers.
    That's the wrong approach.
    Either marijuana is medicine or it's not. State law says it is, so it should be treated as any other medication that can affect a patient's ability to do a job.
    Licensing rules require marijuana users to keep the drug and paraphernalia locked up, to avoid smoking it in front of children, and to have another adult present while under the influence. If those rules are insufficient to protect children — and it's not clear they are — then make them tougher, and prohibit any consumption during working hours.
    But whatever restrictions are imposed, they also should apply to anyone taking the opioid painkiller oxycodone or any other powerful drug that can affect job performance. There is no indication that state officials are making patients taking those drugs choose between the medicine and a child care license.
    This issue arose because of five licensed providers statewide who have marijuana cards that state officials know about. Licensing officials do not ask if applicants have cards, so they know only about those who volunteer the information.
    It's instructive to note that four of the five received surprise inspections last month and were found to be complying with the conditions of their licenses. The fifth was shut down for multiple undisclosed violations, which may or may not have have been related to marijuana use.
    Violating the terms of a state license should be grounds for shutting down a child care operation. On the other hand, the four operators who were found to be in compliance might have to choose between a medication and their livelihood, apparently because marijuana use — even when it complies with license restrictions — makes some in state government uncomfortable. That doesn't seem fair.
    Personal medical information is supposed to be private, under federal law. But state officials saw fit to publicize the list of five operators they knew had cards, and to share that private medical information with parents, in response to media scrutiny. Those providers were in effect punished for voluntarily disclosing their medical marijuana use, while an unknown number of providers who chose not to disclose face no consequences.
    It's unclear whether the Early Learning Council has the legal authority to require disclosure or to deny a license to card holders without legislative action. It's also unclear whether any children being cared for have been harmed in any way by a day-care owner's choice of medication.
    Without such evidence, the council should be careful not to overstep its authority and deny licenses arbitrarily.
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