Governor of Illinois Passes Law to Give Students Access to Medical Marijuana in School

Ashley’s Law passed the Illinois House and Senate with nearly unanimous support before Gov. Rauner signed it into law.
Governor of Illinois Passes Law to Give Students Access to Medical Marijuana in School

The Associated Press is reporting that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed HB 4870 into law. The bill requires schools to let parents or guardians administer medical cannabis to children at school. Parents and caregivers of sick children are celebrating Gov. Rauner’s signing of the bill, which passed the state House in April and the Senate in May with overwhelming support. The new law places some restrictions on the kinds of medical cannabis children can take at school and puts in place other protections for school staff and students.

New Law Lets Parents Administer Medical Cannabis In School

Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy sponsored HB 4870, a bill to amend the Illinois School Code to require all schools, whether charter, public or nonpublic, to authorize a parent or guardian to give their child medical cannabis in school. Cassidy named the bill Ashley’s Law, after a 12-year-old student who had to sue to use medical cannabis to treat her epilepsy at school.

Medical cannabis makes it possible for students with severe illnesses and clinical need to attend school. Illinois’ medical cannabis law permits minors to use the drug with a double certification from registered physicians. But until today, the law had prohibited the possession of marijuana for any reason on school premises.

Back in May, the Illinois Senate passed HB 4870 by a large majority, voting 50-2 in favor. And on Wednesday, Gov. Rauner, a Republican, signed the bill into law. The bill’s sponsors say that the majority support and ease of passing the HB 4870 indicates that lawmakers now have a better understanding of what cannabis is and isn’t.

What Are the Specifics of Ashley’s Law?

Passage of the measure doesn’t give children carte blanche to use medical cannabis in school, however. There are specific requirements that both parents and children must meet.

First, both the student and the parent/caregiver must have a registry identification card confirming their enrollment in Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. Parents or guardians must have a registration card identifying them as a designated caregiver. And students need to be a qualifying patient.

Ashley’s Law also sets parameters on the kind of medical cannabis students can use. Parents cannot administer any kind of medical cannabis product that might disturb the school’s environment or other students. So that rules out smokable medical cannabis and vaping.

Instead, students can take cannabis oil or tinctures orally, use transdermal patches or cannabis-infused topical ointments. The law specifically says “medical cannabis infused product,” and these are infusions that are non-disruptive to use. Parents can administer cannabis products on school grounds and on school buses, effective immediately.

Finally, the law does not require a school nurse or other staff or administrator to provide or administer a medical cannabis product to students, since doing so without the proper registration would violate the law.

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