Several people have asked recently about how things are going with medical marijuana in schools after Jack’s Amendment to the Caregiver Bill last session. And I’ve been asked to participate on a panel in November to discuss Marijuana in Schools (see below).
I have to admit that the results have been less than what we hoped for, but not entirely surprising.
Here’s what we know.
Jack’s Amendment gave schools clear direction from the legislature to make policy allowing for the medical use of marijuana on school grounds under specific restrictions. The amendment doesn’t force schools to comply. It doesn’t tell them that they have to allow it, or that they have to participate in administering cannabis in any way. Much like the local control that has created a patchwork of bans, moratoriums and ordinances across the state, each school district is left to decide for itself. The legislature signaled that they want schools to do the right thing and allow medical cannabis, but it’s up to the schools to go along with it.
Some schools are operating under sort of an unofficial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy where parents are allowed to come to school to discreetly medicate their children, as directed by the legislature. Other school districts are openly opposed to marijuana of any sort on school grounds. None have come out and openly embraced the use of medical marijuana at school.
Why so much reluctance?
The Jefferson County School Board is under intense political pressure right now. With three members of the Board recalled, all five seats are up for grabs next month. They’re not about to go beyond the status quo to do anything that might jeopardize the coming election. And they will likely step cautiously in the months following.
Other school districts have had negative interations with parents of kids using medical marijuana and are left wondering how responsible these parents really are. This lack of trust makes them reluctant to move forward on this issue.
Despite restrictions that medical marijuana be administred by a parent or medical professional, I hear concerns that this is just opening the door to flagrant marijuana use on campus conjuring up visions of pot smoke wafting from the boy’s room as “medical marijuana patients” toke up at school. Though there’s no data to support it, some school officials are complaining that more teens are using marijuana at schools, and they believe this would only add to the problem.
And then there’s the state-federal conflict. School administrators say they would be in violation of federal law and are concerned about retaliation from the federal government. They fear that they will lose federal funding if they allow marijuana, medical or otherwise, on campus.
With local elections coming up, it’s suprising how many school board candidates aren’t even aware that this is an issue they will need to resolve.
So now what?
- We continue to put pressure on school districts to do the right thing and treat medical marijuana like medicine so our kids can go to school.
- We keep the lines of communication open in an effort to educate the educators and administrators.
- We work to instill trust between schools and parents.
- We reach out to parent organizations to inform and engage sympathetic parents.
- And we go back to the legislature to try to resolve the objections and get further direction for schools.
This isn’t simply a marijuana issue to be swept under the rug; this is a disabled rights issue. These kids have the right to an education and the benefits of all that comes with it, despite the medication they choose, a medication that in many cases is keeping them alive and allowing them to function in a school environment. Colorado has a responsibility to make sure that the educational needs of these children are met.
We have families moving to Colorado as the last hope for their desperately ill children. By the grace of God and the blessings of cannabis, they hope their children will one day be able to lead a normal life. That normal life includes going to school.
On November 4, I will be joining a lunchtime panel of experts on “Marijuana in Schools” at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law including Stacey Linn (Jack’s mom), Scott Newell (Director of Capital Construction for the Colorado Department of Education), and Sam Kamin (DU Professor of Law).
Marijuana in Schools
Sturm College of Law
2255 E. Evans Ave. Room 170,
Wednesday, November 4
Sponsored by the Education Policy Outreach Group, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the Children’s Legal Advocacy Group
— Rx MaryJane (Teri Robnett)
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