The state is investigating a Salem daycare center for neglect in connection to the use of medical marijuana. The facility’s license is suspended during the investigation.
The owners of Alphabet Academy Learning Center admitted to KATU that staff members smoke with children nearby, but they say they haven’t broken the law.
“It helps with the pain, and it allows me to get up and start walking,” said Charity Araujo, who runs the day care center at her home with her daughter Moriah. “I think anytime anybody brings up, oh my gosh medical marijuana, I think people automatically get concerned.”
Araujo said she, her daughter and a few other staff members have medical marijuana cards but there is always an adult in charge who has not used marijuana. A condition of the daycare license requires “a second adult must be the primary caregiver when the license holder is under the influence of marijuana.”
“They can come in anytime they want and check,” said Araujo. “We always, always are over in staff.”
However, an Oregon Department of Human Services spokesman said medical marijuana falls under an Oregon law that requires not one under the influence “may be in the home when child care children are present.”
Araujo showed KATU News the canopy in her backyard where she said they “medicate.” It’s about 25 feet away from a short, locked fence dividing the backyard from the playground for children in daycare.
When asked if the kids can see staff members smoking, Araujo said they always zip the canopy shut.
“When we medicate, our kids are in the house for nap time,” she added. “Our kids are in the house because they're done for the day.”
A neighbor told KATU she’s seen Araujo’s daughter with two bongs outside the canopy while kids were still outside.
Araujo said she’s not afraid of the investigation.
“They're going to talk to the children and they are going to find out for themselves we haven't done anything inappropriate,” she said. “We followed the rules.”
Parents with children at the daycare have been notified. The state investigation can take up to 30 days.
By Erica Nochlin, KATU