Springfield YMCA Is Sorry It Threatened Parents over Smelling Like Weed

A notice threatened to report them to DCF if they couldn't pass a sniff test.

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The YMCA of Greater Springfield is apologizing this week after an absurd notice warning of dire consequences for any visitors who might smell like marijuana.

Notices posted at several Y facilities, written by Executive Director of Youth Development Uriah Rodriguez, said the organization had gotten complaints about people coming into the building with the scent of cannabis on their clothing. In response, he wrote, staff members were being instructed to keep their guard up, and to report any parents who smell like the drug to the Department of Children and Families and the local police, for “neglect.”

“Staff at the YMCA of Greater Springfield have smelled some of you out and have been instructed to document instances of anyone suspected of being under the influence,” the notice reads.  “What you do on your leisure time is none of our concern. However, when your habit follows you into our facility it raises concerns.”

It instructed visitors to perform a “Smell Check” and said, “If you come into our facilities and you or your child smell like marijuana or any other illegal substance, we will notify DCF and the local police.”

The over-the-top, smell-based crackdown was short-lived, however. On Tuesday, the the Greater Springfield Y’s Executive Director Dexter Johnson apologized for the notice, distanced his organization from its message, and said YMCA staff need only intervene if a parent poses a clear threat to a child. “Any discussions of ‘smell checks’ or other statements in that letter were not based in policy and should not have occurred,” he wrote in a letter to YMCA members this week, according to The Boston Globe. “We again apologize for the confusion that the incorrect message caused.”

The reversal comes after backlash to the letter mounted online as many noted the obvious: Marijuana is legal, and smelling like it does not mean you’re stoned (a parent might have smelly buds in their pocket, for example, or work for a cannabis business), and threatening to report someone to child protective services for simply smelling like weed is cruel. And dumb. And unnecessarily stigmatizes people who use the drug. And on and on.

Cannabis Control Commission member Shaleen Title in a tweet thanked the Y for coming around. “Good for the Springfield YMCA for apologizing,” she wrote. “This is not a gray area.”