Allowing Medical Marijuana in Schools

Thirty-three states have medical marijuana programs but only nine allow the drug to be taken at K-12 schools.

Thirty-three states have medical marijuana programs but only nine allow the drug to be taken at K-12 schools. Shutterstock


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California could become the tenth state to allow K-12 students with valid prescriptions to take medical marijuana at school.

K-12 students in California would be able to take medical marijuana at school under a bill awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

The bill, approved by the state legislature last month, would give local school boards the option to allow a student’s parent or legal guardian to administer medical marijuana to their child on campus under certain conditions. To be eligible, a student must be taking a non-smokable, non-vapable form of the drug, ordered through a valid written medical recommendation from a doctor. The cannabis can’t be stored on campus, and the parent or guardian would have to sign in each time they visit the school to administer the drug.

The measure, named "Jojo’s Act" after a San Francisco teenager who uses medical cannabis to treat a severe form of epilepsy, was passed by state lawmakers last year but vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who said it was too broad. 

State Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat and the legislation’s main sponsor, reintroduced it this year, saying the measure was necessary to prevent students with medical conditions from having to miss class to take their prescribed medication. Though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, state law prohibits any form of cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school.

“Jojo’s Act would lift barriers for students with severe medical disabilities—for whom medicinal cannabis is the only medication that works—so they can take their dose at school and then get on with their studies, without being removed from campus and without disrupting their educational experience or that of their classmates,” Hill said in a statement.

Thirty-three states have medical marijuana programs, but only nine—Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia and Washington—allow the medication to be used at K-12 schools. None impose a mandate, but the specifics of the policies differ from place to place.

Virginia, for example, prevents schools from suspending or expelling a student for using medical marijuana with valid permission, but only allows the drug to be administered by the school nurse. New Mexico allows parents and legal guardians, as well as school nurses (under the umbrella of “authorized adults”), to administer the drug, and also allows medical marijuana usage on school buses.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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