Jack’s Amendment to the Caregiver Bill gives schools permission to develop policies regarding the use of medical marijuana on school grounds.
Why is this important?
Because schools have never had that permission before. Marijuana, medical or otherwise, has not been allowed on school grounds. This is the first step toward treating medical marijuana similar to other medicines at school.
The prohibition of medical marijuana on school grounds was codified in HB10-1284:
PAGE 49-HOUSE BILL 10-1284
(8) Use of medical marijuana. (a) THE USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS ALLOWED UNDER STATE LAW TO THE EXTENT THAT IT IS CARRIED OUT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 14 OF ARTICLE XVIII OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THIS SECTION, AND THE RULES OF THE STATE HEALTH AGENCY.
(b) A PATIENT OR PRIMARY CAREGIVER SHALL NOT:
(I) ENGAGE IN THE MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA IN A WAY THAT ENDANGERS THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF A PERSON;
(II) ENGAGE IN THE MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA IN PLAIN VIEW OF OR IN A PLACE OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC;
(III) UNDERTAKE ANY TASK WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA, WHEN DOING SO WOULD CONSTITUTE NEGLIGENCE OR PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE;
(IV) POSSESS MEDICAL MARIJUANA OR OTHERWISE ENGAGE IN THE USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN OR ON THE GROUNDS OF A SCHOOL OR IN A SCHOOL BUS;
This is an example of how that bill shows up in the Colorado Revised Statutes (state law):
22-1-119.3. Policy for student possession and administration of prescription medication – rules.
(c) A student shall not possess or self-administer medical marijuana on school grounds, upon a school bus, or at any school-sponsored event.
There are all sorts of places in the code where this kind of conflict over marijuana can arise: designated Drug-Free School Zones, laws about drug paraphernalia, questions about who administers it when and where, and so on.
Even sections of Amendment 20 create confusion for schools and legislators:
(5) (a) No patient shall:
(I) Engage in the medical use of marijuana in a way that endangers the health or well-being of any person; or
(II) Engage in the medical use of marijuana in plain view of, or in a place open to, the general public.
Notice some of the same language in both the constitutional amendment and statute. Does a student using medical marijuana “endanger the health or well-being” of other students? Is a school “open to the general public?” Would the child have to go to a private area to use medical marijuana out of “plain view” of fellow students?
And don’t forget… we now have legal recreational marijuana to muddy the waters even further. Trying to explain the difference between medical use and recreational use then craft reasonable policies that reflect that difference is a big challenge.
Considering all of this confusion on top of decades of prohibition, the D.A.R.E. program and public education campaigns that compare your brain to an egg or teens to lab rats, it’s no wonder schools don’t want to talk about this controversial subject. Remember, we’ve never done this before.
And yet there’s hope.
Up until recently, some schools have operated under a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy where they may be aware of a student’s condition but don’t want to ask about the medicine they choose. Will those schools be more open to allowing students to use medical marijuana on campus?
Many parents with healthy children have expressed compassion and sympathy for the plight of these families. When asked, the majority I’ve spoken with confirm that if their child was in a similar situation, they would want the same thing: a normal life that includes school and friends. Will they support reasonable policy at schools?
More and more people admit to having a friend or family member who has gotten beneficial results from medical marijuana. These people can be found in offices, agencies, nonprofits and businesses across the state, and the number is growing. Will they come out in support of our kids?
Sure, it would be nice if the General Assembly would just order schools to allow medical marijuana, but things just don’t work that way in the real world. Schools, teachers and parents would raise hell at being forced to suddenly make such a dramatic change. Keep in mind that they don’t know what you and I know about marijuana. Their opinions are often colored by what they see in the media along with the fear-mongering messages about the evils of marijuana we all heard growing up.
When Jack’s issues at school came up, we went to the Legislature and said “find a solution!” After gathering information from a variety of perspectives, what was the solution they came up with? Working within certain restrictions like requiring a parent or health professional to administer it, they gave everyone permission to find a solution together. To start charting a path forward. They gave us permission to do the work.
So those who say that this amendment will do nothing may be right. But only if we do nothing.
Change won’t happen overnight. But it will happen. It is happening all around us. The public is more comfortable with and sympathetic toward medical marijuana than ever before. But they still are cautious about the risks of exposing children to recreational use.
This bill gives school districts permission to have the conversation, a conversation they could never have had before. That’s where we start. That’s the first step. And if we’re willing to listen as much as we talk, maybe we can figure this out together.
We continue changing hearts and minds, one conversation at a time.
The final text of Jack’s Amendment can be found on page 15 of the Caregiver Bill SB15-014.