Medical marijuana fliers go home with some school kids
Some Billings parents are upset after their children brought fliers home from school this week that address medical marijuana.
Headed “Medical Marijuana Crisis,” the bright-yellow sheets of paper call marijuana a gateway drug and urge parents to “take back control” by contacting local officials, attending public meetings or volunteering time.
“Our community and our children are at risk,” the fliers read in capital letters.
They went home with students at three School District 2 elementary schools despite being rejected by SD2 officials.
Superintendent Jack Copps said leaders at Meadowlark, McKinley and Newman schools didn’t open an e-mail memo in time to stop the distribution. Nineteen other elementary schools did prevent the fliers from going home.
“We cannot send things home of a political nature,” Copps said. “This, though it might have been well-intentioned, was clearly over the line.”
The information on the fliers is not credited to any source, and an e-mail address listed at the bottom does not work. Some parents thought it was from SD2.
The fliers were inappropriate for a school setting, said Christine Lindauer, whose third-grader brought one home from Meadowlark in a packet of end-of-year materials.
“It’s a political issue, and that’s not for our children,” Lindauer said.
Other parents were upset by questions their children asked after reading the fliers, which contain a brief summary of how medical marijuana became legal in Montana and bullet points that seem meant to alarm readers.
“Billings is now attracting medical marijuana users and providers from other states at an alarming rate,” one bullet point reads.
Another one claims that medical marijuana businesses are popping up all over the city. “You may already have one in your neighborhood,” it says.
The wording is identical to the website of a group called Safe Community Safe Kids that is encouraging Montanans to sign a petition to repeal the 2004 Medical Marijuana Act.
The website says the group’s mission is to “inform and engage citizens to take action towards preserving the safety and prosperity of our communities and families.”
Eighty medical marijuana businesses had city business licenses last month when the Billings City Council approved a six-month moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses.
Twenty-five of those businesses were later sent cease-and-desist letters because they did not have state licensure. As of this week, there were 57 legal medical marijuana businesses in Billings.
Meanwhile, about 15,000 Montanans have medical marijuana cards.
Hundreds of people have attended city meetings about medical marijuana, and many were upset about plans to open a medical marijuana shop near Will James Middle School.
Children should not be expected to understand or even be involved in the debate, said Colleen Eatman, whose daughter was frightened by the flier.
“It’s gone too far when they take it into our children’s lives,” Eatman said. “A crisis in a kid’s eyes is really large. To explain this to a 9-year-old is difficult to do.”
DIANE COCHRAN Of The Gazette Staff
Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2010 5:16 pm