Suspended day care under special rules for medical pot use, co-owner says

Suspended day care under special rules for medical pot use, co-owner says »Play Video
Charity Araujo, co-owner of Alphabet Academy Learning Center, sent the KATU On Your Side Investigators this letter from the state outlining special rules regarding the use of medical marijuana by the day care's staff members.

SALEM, Ore. – A co-owner of a suspended day care facility in Salem, where workers were using medical marijuana, says they did nothing wrong. She says they were following special rules sent to them by Oregon’s Office of Child Care around a year ago.

Charity Araujo sent KATU’s On Your Side Investigators letters from the state outlining those rules. The letters explain special conditions the day care had to maintain because they have staff members with medical marijuana cards.

A letter sent in August of 2013 says "this information will be considered confidential and will not be released to the public.”

It spells out rules Araujo says the day care has been following.

"We are an awesome environment for children,” Araujo said. “We are safe!"

Araujo told KATU that four of the day care's five staff members have medical marijuana cards. She said they used medical pot in a canopy behind a locked gate in the backyard that is out of sight of any children.

The letter from the state says, in part, “The individual will not smoke marijuana in the presence of children” and that "the second adult must be the primary caregiver when the provider is under the influence of marijuana."

Araujo says there was always a different adult in charge of the kids and staff under the influence would only do things like wash dishes and answer the door.

"Some of my parents know but some of my parents don't,” Araujo said Saturday, “because I don't feel that it affects the children in any way."

Araujo says she asked the state for the special rules about a year ago before she decided to pursue a medical marijuana prescription to treat a debilitating illness.

The day care, Alphabet Academy Learning Center, has been suspended twice before. Both times it was allowed to reopen.

"We haven't done anything inappropriate,” Araujo said. “We followed the rules. We over-followed what is required of us from child care division and DHS."

State authorities won't say why the day care was suspended previously, but Araujo says those complaints were unfounded. She says the first suspension had nothing to do with marijuana.

The most current investigation by the Department of Human Services was launched last week. It could last a month or more. During that time the day care’s license will remain suspended.