The issue of children medical cannabis patients and their access to their medicine on school property in Colorado is gaining momentum, having cleared its first legislative obstacle. If it succeeds, Colorado would join New Jersey as the second state to allow cannabis medicine use on school grounds in non-smokable form and administered by a nurse or caregiver.
The battle so far
The bill that is pushing its way through the Legislature in Colorado has met opposition from school officials, who have testified against it. Because cannabis is illegal under federal law, schools are worried that allowing it would endanger the $433 million in federal money given to public schools in the state.
The crux of the matter is that while the law currently states that the medicine can be administered as long as it is in a non-smokable form and done by a nurse or authorized caregiver, school nurses are required to report to the authorities any child exposed to an illegal substance, which according to federal law, includes cannabis-based medicines.
Parents in uproar
Parents swarmed the Legislature meeting earlier this month, feeling that schools should be required to accommodate medical necessity. Jennie Storms is one such parent. Her son was suspended from school last year because his cannabis seizure medication was mixed into a yogurt he brought to school. Normally it would not go with him, but on one occasion, he brought it with him and was kicked out of school.
“This is not about two kids smoking a joint between cars in a parking lot.” – Storms
Another parent, Stacey Linn, has a 15-year-old with cerebral palsy. Her child has been forbidden from wearing his skin patch that delivers a steady stream of medicine into his body while at school.
“They need to make reasonable accommodations so that children who need medical marijuana can go to school.” – Linn
Patients themselves came forward to speak on the issue, like 15-year-old Jack Splitt, who also suffers from cerebral palsy.
“Say yes so I can go to school like every other kid.” – Splitt
In a decisive 10-3 vote, the bill passed, but must await a vote by the full House. If it succeeds, it would change the current law which gives schools the discretion to allow medical use of a mandatory medical accommodation.
Parents criticize the current law, because although schools have the power, not one of the 178 school districts actually allows cannabis medicine to be administered at this time. Other prescriptions, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Valium, Prozac, and any other medication are all considered okay to have at school if they are prescribed.
Should schools deny children access to medication that allows them to function at school? Would you be upset if your child had to endure preventable seizures just because of a school policy? Share your thoughts on social media or in the comments below.