Medical cannabis is legal in 30 states and adults can use it recreationally in 9 of those states, including Washington, D.C. But in all but a few of those places, cannabis laws prohibit possession or consumption anywhere near schools. In California, for example, Proposition 64, the state’s legalization measure, bans cannabis of any kind for any use within 1,000 feet of public schools.
Yet some medical cannabis patients are also students, and many have had to fight in court for the right to possess and use medical cannabis at school. For one 5-year-old kindergartener who suffers from a rare and severe form of epilepsy, that fight ended today.
How One Family Won The Right To Give Their Daughter Cannabis At School
Today, Judge Charles Marson issued a court order allowing Brooke Adams, a 5-year-old with Dravet syndrome, to bring cannabis to school and have a nurse administer it. Adams’ case is still pending with California’s Office of Administrative Hearings’ Special Education Division. A final ruling will be issued in mid-November.
Prior to the judge’s order, Brooke’s school district, Rincon Valley Union, would not allow the kindergartener to bring medical cannabis to school. Both California’s medical cannabis law and federal law strictly prohibits any form of cannabis on and around school campuses.
But attorneys representing Brooke were able to win the argument in court by pointing to other federal and state laws. They made the case that in prohibiting Brooke from bringing medical cannabis to school, the district was violating laws that mandate accommodations for students with disabilities. Both federal and California law require schools to assist students with disabilities. And that includes allowing students to take medication if doing so is necessary for them to attend school.
Children, Dravet Syndrome, and Cannabis Oil
Brooke Adams is a 5-year-old with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome causes frequent seizures, sometimes up to 1,000 per month. It’s also a form of epilepsy that’s highly resistant to seizure drugs and other epilepsy medications. In Brooke’s case, that meant traumatic seizures, some lasting as long as three hours.
But Brooke’s parents say their daughter has found relief from a daily dose of CBD tincture and a strong THC oil for emergencies. For Brooke, THC operates as a “rescue drug” that can help stop seizures when they start. The daily CBD treatment is a preventative treatment to reduce the number of seizures Brooke has.
Two recent studies suggest that both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may be effective in treating epilepsy in children. One team of researchers found that THC and CBD in combination were more effective at reducing seizures than CBD alone.
Brooke became a registered medical cannabis patient in California just after her first birthday. And her mother told NBC that cannabis oil helps her have fewer seizures. A final ruling, expected in November, will say whether or not Brooke can continue bringing her rescue medication to school. If it says she can, her case may become an important precedent for changing school medical cannabis policy statewide.