Medical Pot in Schools Bill: Epileptic Child Can Now Use Valium but Not MMJ

Three-year-old Addelyn Patrick is allowed to use Valium at her school, but not medical marijuana. Additional images, a video and more below.
Three-year-old Addelyn Patrick is allowed to use Valium at her school, but not medical marijuana. Additional images, a video and more below.

For years now, as we've reported, families with sick children have been moving to Colorado for medical marijuana access — especially those whose kids suffer from assorted seizure-related disorders that have responded favorably to MMJ, which is typically administered via pills, liquid or patch.

However, such kids face an obstacle when they get to school.

No school district in the state currently allows medical marijuana to be given to pupils.

A new bill sponsored by Representative Jonathan Singer would change that — and the legislation passed its first test yesterday. But it could face tougher challenges down the line, especially given the passion with which representatives from schools are fighting against it.

The House committee that considered the marijuana-in-schools bill.
The House committee that considered the marijuana-in-schools bill.

We've included the complete text of House Bill 16-1373 below, but here's its summary:

Under current law, a student with a medical marijuana recommendation is not permitted to use medical marijuana on school grounds, on a school bus, or at a school activity unless the district has adopted a policy permitting the use. The bill allows a student to use medical marijuana on school grounds, on a school bus, or at a school activity and requires each school district to adopt a policy allowing the medical marijuana use. If the department of education or a public school loses any federal funding as a result of adopting the policy, the general assembly shall appropriate state money sufficient to offset the loss of federal money.

Singer spoke in favor the bill at a committee hearing covered by CBS4, as did a slew of parents, including Meagan Patrick, whose three-year-old daughter, Addelyn, suffers from epilepsy.

According to Patrick, Addelyn has made huge strides since she began using medical cannabis treatments. However, her public preschool doesn't allow it to be administered — although liquid Valium is okay.

Why are schools so opposed to Singer's bill? 

During her testimony, Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney with the Colorado Association of School Boards, stressed that marijuana remains against federal law — and for that reason, schools fear the loss of federal funding, $433 million worth of which is distributed in Colorado.

Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney with the Colorado Association of School Boards, who opposes the measure, testified next to Representative Jonathan Singer, who sponsored it.
Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney with the Colorado Association of School Boards, who opposes the measure, testified next to Representative Jonathan Singer, who sponsored it.

This argument is weakened by the experience in New Jersey, the only other state with a law of the sort Singer is proposing. The state hasn't been hit with a massive loss of federal funds as a result of this rule due to the policies of the Obama administration.

That could change under the next president, who might find it contradictory to require school nurses to report student use of drugs, including pot, even as they administer medical marijuana to authorized patients.

However, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidates, have both said they would respect Colorado's marijuana laws, as has Senator Ted Cruz, who just swept all the delegates available at the Colorado Republican Convention. And while GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has discussed what he's called "big problems" with Colorado's recreational marijuana industry, he's been consistent in his support for medical marijuana.

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The bill passed yesterday's committee by a 10-3 margin. Next it goes to the full House, where it's likely to find similar success. But it could face stronger headwinds in the more conservative, Republican-controlled Senate, particularly if schools don't modify their opposition.

Look below to see a CBS4 report about the measure, followed by the document itself.


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