Stop Pretending Like Your Kids Don’t Already Know What Marijuana Is

A former jewelry store location in the Western Center shopping mall in Fargo near West Acres will be site of the Acreage North Dakota medical marijuana dispensary. The dispensary at 4302 13th Ave. S. is expected to be open Feb. 28.

Though legal (or at least decriminalized) recreational marijuana probably isn’t going to be a thing in North Dakota for a while yet, we aren’t all that far away from licensed businesses legally selling marijuana from medicinal purposes in our communities.

That’s due to a very poorly written ballot measure passed by voters in the 2016 election cycle (and subsequently turned into workable policy during the 2017 legislative session). But even despite a political consensus behind it, we’re still seeing some resistance to medical marijuana.

Case in point, this column from Minot Daily News editor Michael Sasser who argues that a medical marijuana business ought not go in the local mall because kids might see it or something.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are about to be a statewide reality. The voters have spoken. For good or for ill, they are coming to Minot and other cities in North Dakota.

That doesn’t mean that locals have no control over where they operate.

The mall is not an appropriate location. There are too many young people, too many families and some families will choose not to explain to youngsters what such a facility does. It interferes with families’ abilities to choose when to discuss with minors the issue of marijuana and medical marijuana. Families should not have to be forced to discuss the issue because of the proximity of a dispensary close to the city’s only full-service mall.

This is nonsense, though not an uncommon position in the debate over zoning these new types of business.

Kids young enough to need the concept of marijuana explained to them aren’t likely to be all that interested in some random storefront at the mall. Kids old enough to get what marijuana is probably know more about it than their parents realize.

To the extent that the presence of a marijuana business in the mall might prompt some parent-child discussions of the drug, why is that such a bad thing? Like it or not, we’re moving into an era where legal marijuana is a part of our lives. You had better be talking to your kids about it.

What would you be protecting your kids from if you avoid the conversation? It’s not like they aren’t going to hear about marijuana from movies or television or music. Every day kids in North Dakota go pasts liquor stores and bars. They watch mom order a glass of wine with her dinner, or dad crack a can of beer while attending to the backyard grill. Heck, here in Minot there’s an adult bookstore right on the busiest street in town.

I would hope that parents are talking to their kids about things like alcohol and sex and pornography. They’re not always easy conversations, sure, but these things exist in our society. Marijuana exists in our society.

I’d rather they exist out in the open than to pretend like we can wall them off from view.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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