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Springfield YMCA Apologizes For Promising Marijuana 'Smell Checks' On Parents

SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – The YMCA in Springfield is apologizing after saying in a letter to parents the facility would notify the Department of Children and Families if any parents smell like marijuana when they pick up their children.

Executive Director of Youth Development Uriah Rodriguez sent a letter to parents saying there had been several complaints about parents or guardians smelling of marijuana at pick up. The letter said staff members have "smelled some of you out."

"While marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, caring for children while under the influence can be considered neglect especially when operating a motor vehicle," the letter read. "What you do on your leisure time is none of our concern. However, when your habit follows you into our facility it raises concerns about you being under the influence."

Following backlash from parents, Rodriguez sent a follow-up letter apologizing. The second letter said the YMCA will enforce a policy that prevents parents from picking up their child if they show signs of impairment, not solely based on smell.

"We understand that the smell of any substance does not indicate impairment," the follow-up letter read. "Any discussions of 'smell checks' or other statements in the letter were not based in policy and should not have occurred. We apologize for the incorrect statements in the previous letter and any confusion that they caused."

Dexter Johnson, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, issued a statement on the letters.

"We deeply regret any negative feelings that the initial letter may have caused," Johnson wrote. "The first letter was sent out in error and does not accurately reflect our policy. The letter that was sent out yesterday does reflect the YMCA policy. There are no instances of reports being filed by the organization in relationship to the scent of marijuana. This second letter does not represent a change in policy. It is the only policy that has existed."

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