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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Oregon bans medical marijuana cards for owners of child-care centres

SALEM, Ore. - Home-based day care centres are no places for medical pot, Oregon has decided.

That decision on Wednesday by a state board was prompted by revelations that the owners of at least five home-based day care centres had medical marijuana cards and were allowed to use the drug on the premises.

One centre was already shut down for unrelated potential rules violations, but the owners of four others will have to choose between their child-care businesses or their marijuana cards.

The state had long viewed medical marijuana as a private health manner and did not disclose the presence of marijuana to parents, but officials changed course after media reports highlighted the issue.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber has also taken heat from his Republican rival, state Rep. Dennis Richardson.

"There's a question about whether or not somebody who's under the influence of cannabis can really provide that quality early learning experience," said Pam Curtis, chair of the Early Learning Council, which was appointed by Kitzhaber to oversee early childhood education. "What the council said today was, 'We don't think so.' "

Advocates of the medicinal-pot program objected to Wednesday's move, saying child care providers aren't prohibited from using medications, including narcotics.

"You don't make these kind of requirements for people that are using Vicodin," said Anthony Taylor, an advocate for medical marijuana patients. "You don't make these kinds of requirements for people who are using methadone."

The rule takes effect immediately and lasts six months. The Early Learning Council will consider a permanent rule in January, after voters decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The rule allows others who live in the home — but aren't licensed child-care providers — to hold medical marijuana cards, but the drug can't ever be stored in the home. It also bans use of smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes on the premises while children are present.

Applicants for child-care licenses are not currently asked whether they have medical marijuana cards, so the state knows only about those who volunteer the information, state officials have said.

State child-care licensors will not be able to check whether child care providers have medical marijuana cards because state law restricts access to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program database, said Cindy Hunt, a lawyer for the Department of Education, which oversees child care.

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Follow AP writer Jonathan J. Cooper at http://twitter.com/jjcooper .

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