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California Assembly Passes Bill to Allow Students Medical Marijuana in Public Schools

SB 1127 would let parents give their kids medical cannabis at school, but only if their school opts-in to the policy.

Adam Drury

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Assembly Passes Bill to Allow Students Medical Marijuana in Public Schools
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California legislators are heeding the calls of parents and caregivers of children who use medical cannabis. For years, parents have decried the fact that California law does not permit medical cannabis on or within 1,000 feet of public school grounds. On Monday, state lawmakers moved to change that, approving a bill that would allow parents to administer medical cannabis to their children at school. The bill does set some restrictions on the types of cannabis a parent or guardian can administer. And it would ultimately leave the decision of allowing or banning medical cannabis up to individual school districts.

Jojo’s Act Heads to Gov. Jerry Brown

SB1127, better known as Jojo’s Act, is a bill that takes the namesake of the San Francisco High School student who inspired it. That student, like so many others in California, had to leave school in order to obtain their medical cannabis treatments. For students with epilepsy and other severe clinical needs, there was no other option.

Parents and students would often describe how disruptive it was obeying the law. For young children, parents would have to arrive to class, pick up their child, take the child far enough away from school, give them their dose then return them to school. The requirements also prevented the use of cannabis as a “rescue drug” to stop or shorten seizures a student may experience while at school.

Yet concerns over disruptiveness were one reason for prohibiting medical cannabis at school in the first place.  State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), the bill’s sponsor, thinks the legislation strikes the right balance for both. After SB 1127 received approval in the Senate, it passed in the assembly 42-20 on Monday. Now, Jojo’s Act will head to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for approval or veto.

No Smoking or Vaping, and California Schools Can Still Opt-Out of the Policy

Jojo’s Act would let parents administer medical cannabis to their child at school. But only if the school’s governing body agrees to adopt an explicit policy to that effect. In other words, Jojo’s Act won’t mandate that schools let students obtain medical cannabis treatments on campus. It simply gives them the choice of implementing such a policy if they wish. And they could revoke it at any time.

Furthermore, the bill restricts any medical cannabis products that a student smokes or vapes. Only oral and topical medications will be allowed. Of course, the student will have to be a qualified patient under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. And parents will have to remove any remaining medical cannabis from school grounds. Schools will not store medical cannabis products for students on site.

It’s unclear, if the bill passes, how quick California schools will be to adopt the policy. Many remain hesitant to allow cannabis at school for any reason. Nevertheless, public opinion on the matter is shifting, bringing legislative changes with it.

Just weeks ago, a California judge ordered one school district to let Brooke Adams, a 5-year-old kindergartener with Dravet syndrome, possess and use medical cannabis at school. The ruling is still pending a final decision in November, but a change in California’s medical cannabis rules could help uphold it.

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