Marijuana

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


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.


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.


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.

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.


House Bill 16-1373



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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts