A law in Colorado was passed last year, allowing children who use medical marijuana access to their medication in public schools as long as the school district agrees. Yet, not one school district has agreed and thus no eligible children have been granted access to their medication. The issue is forcing children to choose between medication and education, something that lawmakers and parents are obviously concerned about. Now lawmakers are taking another look at amending the law, so that it forces all schools to allow for an eligible child to have his/her prescribed cannabis-based medication administered by a nurse or caregiver as medical marijuana edibles, oils, or patches.
Precedent in New Jersey
Despite the fact that the State Board of Education itself is completely neutral about the issue, there are school officials who are against the bill, believing that it could be a risk to receiving federal funding. Many believe this is a paranoid thought process due to the fact that New Jersey passed a bill requiring schools to allow patients to receive their medical marijuana edibles, oils, or patches at school, with no federal repercussions. There has been no federal interference to any school in New Jersey and many advocates of the bill believe that the same will be the case in Colorado.
A Cautious Approach
Despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in half the country and in some of those states it has been legal for decades, Colorado is 1 of just 3 states that currently have any laws whatsoever regarding the medical administration of marijuana to children who are patients. Due to the fact that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug, illegal on a federal level, schools have been apprehensive about allowing it on the premises in any capacity just in case it got in the wrong hands or in case the school or staff became penalized for it in some capacity.
Medical Marijuana Edibles Reported by Nurses
Schools are required, by federal law, to contact authorities if a child becomes exposed to an illegal drug. Due to this, there have been school nurses who reported parents of children who take marijuana-based medication. One epileptic 8th grader’s parents got a call from Child Protective Services because a nurse reported that the child was using medical cannabis-based oil to treat his epilepsy. This happened despite the law stating that children are allowed to receive cannabis-based treatment and despite the fact that the child was not using the oil at school.
Deeper Concern for Funding
Amber Wann, who was the mother of the patient said “they were more concerned about losing federal funds and law enforcement coming after their nurses than about the new law saying they can allow a hemp-derived medicine.” There are many children receiving dangerous medications that contain controlled substances such as Ritalin. Supporters of the bill believe that cannabis-derived medication should be treated no differently than these.
The new law states that cannabis derived medication must be taken in a non-smokable form, including medical marijuana edibles, oils, and patches. The amendment to the law, forcing schools to allow children to receive medication in this way, would allow the 350 or so children with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and many other conditions to receive both their medication and education.