Marijuana: Children's Caucus fears Amendment 64 will endanger vulnerable children

At noon today, the Colorado Children's Caucus will make a presentation to the state's general assembly entitled "How Drugs are Endangering Colorado's Children;" get details below.

As the program's title implies, the organization, featuring the likes of state senators Kevin Lundberg and Linda Newell, is worried about negative effects associated with the passage of Amendment 64.

Lundberg is a Republican, while Newell is a Democrat -- differing affiliations stressed by Katie Facchinello, the Tennyson Center for Children's strategic initiative direction, as well as the Colorado director for the Every Child Matters Colorado Campaign.

"This is really a bipartisan effort," Facchinello says. "We appreciate that the members of the caucus are trying to take the politics out of kids' issues."

Lundberg and Newell co-chair the caucus along with two representatives -- Janak Joshi, a Republican, and Jonathan Singer, a Democrat; to see the complete list of caucus members, click here. And their concerns don't begin and end with pot. Indeed, the calendar on the caucus website lists an additional six presentations to legislators through April on topics that range from child-abuse prevention to juvenile justice.

Yet A64 fallout tops the upcoming roster in part because of the challenges it may present to children in situations that may be ripe for neglect or abuse.

"We really need to think long and hard about what we're asking law enforcement and our child-protection staff in Colorado to do, and how they're going to respond to families and parents growing pot in their homes," Facchinello says. "We need to keep an eye out for how we're going to respond to protect our most vulnerable youth -- primarily our children growing up in foster care and the child-protection system."

She offers an example.

"Say an investigator goes into a home where you're responding to a community member who says a child is being neglected or, God forbid, even abused, and the parents hand you a story about how it's perfectly within their legal rights to grow marijuana in their home. How do we respond to that as a community -- particularly our caseworkers, who are responding to more than 80,000 reports of abuse and neglect in the state?"

Continue for more about the Colorado Children's Caucus presentation about drugs and children.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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