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Don't Open Medical Pot Dispensaries Near Schools: Poll

TUESDAY, Feb. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- While the vast majority of American parents support legal medical marijuana, they want pot dispensaries banned near schools or day care centers, according to a new national survey.

The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital poll was conducted by the University of Michigan.

Not only did three-quarters of parents support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, a third supported making it available to pediatric patients, pollsters said.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in about two-thirds of states. But there is no consistent state or local framework for where dispensaries or their operations can be located, the pollsters said.

In the new poll, 70 percent of parents said they should have a say in how close dispensaries can be to schools and day care centers. Nearly 45 percent said dispensaries should also be kept away from religious facilities, and 77 percent said pot dispensaries should be governed by the same location rules in place for liquor stores.

"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," said poll co-director Sarah Clark. "When it comes to where dispensaries are located, many parents feel that any area near children is too close for comfort."

Such sentiments were widely shared among both mothers and fathers and across all ages and incomes.

A big reason why is concern that adults who buy medical marijuana will end up driving while high. Almost half of respondents said this was a "significant worry."

In addition, nearly half of respondents expressed concern that children might come across marijuana accidentally near a sales center. About half also worried that pot would be more accessible to their teens, and 45 percent said having a dispensary nearby would set a bad example for children. About 35 percent feared crime might rise in surrounding neighborhoods.

Clark said the lack of established standards may lead to policies that overlook parents' concerns.

"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," she advised in a university news release.

More information

Learn more about medical marijuana at the U.S National Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Feb. 18, 2019

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