Op-Ed: Why Does OLCC Warn Against Parental Toking, But Not Drinking?
To the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC);
When I purchased some marijuana recently at a licensed retailer, it came with a small scrap of paper.
It read, “MARIJUANA CAN MAKE KIDS VERY SICK. You can keep the children in your life safe and healthy by storing all marijuana products in a locked area that children cannot see or reach.”
According to the OLCC website, under the heading “Consumer Health and Safety Information,” the law requires the retailer to give me this scrap of paper “with each sale of a marijuana item.”
That’s a reasonable warning, though I’d quibble with the adjective “very.” Regardless, we all want to keep harmful substances meant for adults out of the hands of children.
However, I take issue with the next part of the warning, which read, “Children want to be like their parents and the other adults in their lives. When you use marijuana in front of them, they may want to use it, too. You can keep them safe and healthy by not using marijuana when kids are around.”
Modeling healthy behavior for children is laudable, but the suggestion that children seeing their parents using marijuana endangers them is alarmist and unconvincing.
Many parents using marijuana are doing so for medical reasons, even if they don’t register with the prohibitively-expensive Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. To suggest they go hide when they use that medicine but not when they use their prescriptions is discriminatory.
Hiding their marijuana use would also deprive their children of first-hand observation that it isn’t just an adult recreational substance, it’s also a healing herb.
Seeing their parents use marijuana responsibly and maintain functional lives would also be modeling healthy behavior for those children should they decide to use marijuana as adults.
Even the parents using marijuana to just relax and unwind should not be treated any differently than those parents who might drink a glass of wine or pop open a cold beer in front of their children.
However, when I perused the OLCC website for “Consumer Health and Safety Information” for alcohol, there was nothing like the section on marijuana.
The closest thing I could find as far as warnings mandated by the state regarding alcohol and children are the signs warning that pregnant women should not drink alcohol.
I have never been handed a scrap of paper when I make an alcohol purchase in Oregon that tells me to keep it locked up, away from children, and don’t let them see me drink it.
Why is that? After all, while “marijuana can make kids very sick,” alcohol can actually kill them.
It’s time the OLCC – which controls both marijuana and alcohol – followed the will of the voters and started treating marijuana like alcohol. If the state is not telling alcohol consumers to hide their behavior from their children, there’s no reasonable basis for telling marijuana consumers to do so.