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A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers is taking legislative action to reconcile one of the most pressing issues in America’s growing experiment with legal cannabis — the use of medical marijuana on public school campuses.
As both medical and adult-use cannabis programs have continued to spread like wildfire across America, increased federal penalties for possessing drugs on school ground and deeply entrenched stigmas have stopped even some of the most progressive states from enacting comprehensive guidelines for cannabis on campus, either requiring parents to be present for administration of the substance, or banning the medication entirely. Because a number of states have enacted medical cannabis legislation as a direct response to the effectiveness of CBD to treat children’s epilepsy, giving kids access to such medicine at school has been a constant topic of debate.
Now, according to Denver Fox affiliate KDVR, a bipartisan group of Colorado legislators, including Democratic Rep. Dylan Roberts, Democratic Sen. Irene Aguilar and Republican Sen. Vicki Marble, have announced a bill to expand access to cannabis medicine for students with state-approved recommendations. Introduced last week, House Bill 18-1286 would allow Colorado school nurses and other non-guardian adults to help students ingest non-smokable medical marijuana.
Currently, Colorado children with valid medical cannabis registry cards are only allowed to use their medicine under the supervision of a parent or guardian. By allowing school nurses and their designees to help children take their medicine, HB 18-1286 aims to relieve parents of a significant burden, who often have to leave work in the middle of the day and go to their children’s school, all to administer a few drops of a non-psychoactive tincture.
Outside of Colorado, similar classroom complications have arisen across the legal cannabis landscape, with states like Maine and New Jersey joining Colorado in the fight for comprehensive medical marijuana access, while states like Oregon are still looking for ways to reconcile discrepancies in state and federal law.
“What we’re finding is often the child is picked up for lunch or during break and leaves with the family off campus,” said Brad Bixler, communications specialist with Oregon’s North Bend School District to The World in December last year. “Then after they have what they need, they are brought back. The point is, because it’s still listed as a Schedule I, it is still a very big deal for us.”
In addition to school nurses, HB 18-1286 would also allow for a “nurse’s designee” to administer medical cannabis to students, potentially allowing teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to help students take their meds, securing cannabis access for students at schools without a full-time nursing staff. No matter who administers the medication, though, the proposed bill would still require the responsible adult to remove the cannabis from school property in between specific uses.
The bill has yet to see a legislative debate or vote, but with early bipartisan support from both the Colorado House and Senate, it’s possible that the Centennial State could solve its on-campus cannabis issue before year’s end.