Colorado House removes comprehensive bill to expand access to medical cannabis in public schools
A bill to expand access to medical cannabis in Colorado public schools was passed by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday and now goes to the desk of Democratic Governor Jared Polis. The measure, Senate Law 21-056, was approved by the members of the House with 57 to 6 votes. According to the law, children with complicated medical conditions could receive cannabis-based medication from school staff on campus.
If the Polis Act were signed, it would make it easier for students to access medical cannabis in public schools by asking school districts to establish guidelines for the storage, possession and management of cannabis-based medicines by school staff. The Senate bill would also protect school staff who choose to administer cannabis medication to student patients who are required to file a medical treatment plan with the school. Cannabis medication used by students as part of the measure must be in a non-smokable form.
The youthful cannabis activist Alexis Bortell, who was instrumental in the passage of the law, shared the news of the House vote in a Facebook post on Monday. Bortell, 15, moved to Colorado with her family when she was nine years old to receive cannabis medication to treat her difficult-to-treat epilepsy. In her social media message, Bortell also shared a statement she made to state lawmakers testifying about the frustration she had in trying to enroll in a school that would allow her medication to be cut off to store the campus.
“You can imagine my disappointment and anger when I learned that I could not attend high school in person because of my medical needs,” Bortell testified to lawmakers. “I was denied admission to both high schools to which I applied (the only ones available to me) because the school couldn’t store my medical cannabis on the school grounds, nor could a school nurse / staff member give me my medicine could if I needed it. “
Bill to expand access to medical cannabis in public schools approved last month in the Colorado Senate
At a February Senate Education Committee hearing, parents of medical cannabis patients explained the difficulties they face in administering drugs to their children due to restrictions on medical cannabis in public schools. Some parents said they had to leave work to treat their child on school grounds. Others said they chose to keep their children distance learning because it was easier to administer cannabis at home.
Mark Porter told lawmakers his family moved to Colorado from another state to get access to medical cannabis for their daughter Sarah, who has Crohn’s disease. She’s seen significant improvements in medical cannabis, but her high school hasn’t updated its guidelines to allow school staff to administer their medication. As a result, Sarah continued distance learning instead of being on campus with her peers.
“Are we just sending it with you discreetly, hoping they don’t get caught?” Asked Porter at the hearing. “We shouldn’t have to. There is nothing my child does that is wrong. “
After being approved in committee, the Colorado Senate passed the bill last month by 33-1 votes. With Monday’s approval in the House of Representatives, SB 21-056 is now heading to Polis to reflect on the fair and comprehensive reform of medical cannabis in public schools.