An elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska had to apologize to residents on Tuesday after an inappropriate automated phone message was sent out to parents of the student body. The voicemail, ordered by Campbell Elementary School Principal Michelle Johansen and issued by an unnamed female staff member, pleaded with parents to attend a City Assembly meeting to declare their disapproval of pending retail marijuana dispensaries in Anchorage.
Anchorage School District spokesperson Heidi Embley said the “partisan” message should never have been left on parents’ answering machines. Embley added that the uncalled-for message was delivered to 464 phone numbers, and Johansen is taking full responsibility for the female staffer’s audio directive.
“This was not something that should have happened or will happen again in the future,” Embley said. “It should have been a strictly informational message to notify parents of something that may have been of interest to them.”
The anonymous woman on the message opens by letting parents know that one dispensary already “quietly passed without public input” at the last City Assembly gathering, beseeching them to stop the bleeding by coming to the next meeting.
“It hits too close to home, it hits too close to our school. Please, we are asking for as many families as possible to make an appearance at the municipal Assembly meeting tomorrow night to show who this will be having an impact on: our children,” the message goes on to say.
Embley said that Johansen gave the green light for the staffer to make the call without first reading the script, though she did not confirm or deny whether disciplinary action would be taken against the Campbell employee. The notification system used to deliver the fateful message is typically used for emergency phone calls and texts, not biased political opinions.
Principal Johansen had to put her tail between her legs and make the apology call on Tuesday morning. The message said, “Campbell parents, this is principal Michelle Johansen. Yesterday you received a message to inform you about an activity in our school community which will be addressed at tonight’s assembly meeting. Unfortunately, words were used which implied partisanship. This is not the intent or policy of the district or our school, and I apologize for the message portrayed in the call.”
The whole ordeal proved inconsequential because, reportedly, no parents showed up to the City Assembly meeting. Two dispensaries and a cultivation facility were approved for operation within the city.
One of the biggest arguments that prohibitionists hang their hat on is marijuana’s inevitable corruption of children. We constantly hear fear-mongering opponents of legalization hark on the effect that regulated cannabis has on minors, yet time and time again prove to be nothing more than a figment of their narrow imagination. A parent’s inherent instinct to protect their offspring should never be used as bureaucratic ammunition in a war that has very little to do with kids; if it did, doctors wouldn’t be able to legally prescribe OxyContins to an 11-year-old.
In fact, we’ve seen that legalization has the opposite effect. In a 2015 study conducted by Colorado’s Department of Public Health, data shows that teen use (something the school assumes these parents are worried about in the coming years) is actually lower in Colorado than the rest of the United States.
Maybe Campbell Elementary should refocus their efforts on allocating all that marijuana tax money they’ll likely be rolling in.
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