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Sensi Magazine

New Law Would Allow Students to Access Medical Marijuana

Apr 09, 2016 07:13AM ● By Randy Robinson

Last year, when 14-year-old JeffCo student Jack Splitt went to school with a cannabis patch on his wrist, he was sent home by the school nurse. His mother, Stacey Linn, was informed that "marijuana" was not allowed on public school property. Jack would not be allowed to attend his classes and take his medicine.

For Jack, cannabis is essential to his well-being. He has a severe form of cerebral palsy, and cannabis is one of the few medicines that treats his condition. 

At the time Jack was sent home, Amendment 20, the law which created Colorado's regulated medical cannabis framework, disallowed "marijuana" on school grounds. With the help of Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), Stacey Linn got "Jack's amendment" attached to 2015's Senate Medical Marijuana Caregiver's Bill. Jack's amendment permits schools to allow medical cannabis on campus.

But the provision was voluntary. Schools in Colorado, fearing the loss of federal funding, have not taken advantage of Jack's amendment. Which means students like Jack, along with the other 350 minors who hold medical marijuana cards in Colorado, can be suspended from school for taking medicine necessary to treat their debilitating or life-limiting conditions.

A new statewide bill could change all of this. HB16-1373 otherwise known as a bill “Concerning Student Use of Medical Marijuana,” would allow minors with medical cannabis cards to access their medicine while at school. 

Under HB-16-1373, only students with a medical card could take advantage of these exceptions. Furthermore, the student’s parent or caregiver must administer the cannabinoid medicine. School officials or nurses will not be permitted to handle any cannabis products. Recreational use will remain banned, and only edibles, concentrates, or patches would be allowed. All consumption of marijuana-based medicines would be done out-of-sight from other children.

This legal quagmire puts our state at odds with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA guarantees that any student with disabilities can receive public education and have his or her individual medical needs accommodated by the school.

Most of Colorado's medical marijuana patients who are under the age of 18 have medical cards for seizure disorders. Seizure disorders such as Dravet syndrome do not respond to most conventional pharmaceuticals, but CBD oils made from cannabis plants appear to work wonders in many cases. 

Our students’ medical needs should not compromise their ability to receive an education. You can help by attending the House meeting on Monday, April 11, at 1:30 PM in room HCR 0107 at the State Capitol Building. Or you can contact your state representatives to let them know that you support HB16-1373. 

Click here to go to the Colorado House Agriculture Committee’s website and contact members individually. Or you can click here to send a single e-mail to all the representatives.