Colorado just passed a new law to expand access to medical marijuana in schools
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has just signed a bill to make it easier for students to access medical cannabis in school.
Under current law, any individual school or school district can prohibit its students from using or storing medical marijuana on school premises. The new law, which will come into effect this fall, will remove that authority and effectively require schools to cater to the medical needs of their students. This legislation gives students access to life-saving epilepsy treatments and other essential medications, but continues to ban smokable cannabis on school premises.
The state legislature introduced this bill in February of this year, and it has swiftly evolved through lawmakers with a strong majority holding. Last week legislators approved the final version of the law and passed it on to Governor Polis, who incorporated it into law this week.
“This bill will be a long time coming,” said the governor at the signing ceremony, according to Marihuana Moment. Polis said that the bill “will finally treat cannabis the same as other prescribed drugs” and ensure that “school nurses, teachers and other volunteers cannot be discriminated against for relying on the administration of medicinal cannabis”.
School authorities must now develop their own guidelines for the safe storage of medical cannabis products to be used on school premises. Any single school employee who is uncomfortable with medical pots can apologize for not handling cannabis products personally, but every school as a whole is still required to comply with the new law.
“As with traditional medication, students who are dependent on medical cannabis should never be denied access just because they are in a school setting,” said Carly Wolf, policy manager for Colorado’s NORML chapter, of Marijuana Moment. “Now students and their families will never be forced to choose between a child’s health or their education.”
Unfortunately, the ongoing federal ban on cannabis is forcing parents in other states to make this difficult choice between medicine and education. Although federal law requires schools to accept students with special medical needs, it also requires public schools to adhere to strict drug-free guidelines. Any school that violates these guidelines by allowing cannabis on their premises risks losing their federal funding.
This policy has intimidated most schools into banning all students and staff from using medical cannabis, even if it is legal under state law. Many school districts have even gone so far as to fire employees who legally use medical marijuana. However, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has suggested that the Department of Justice will not interfere with legal weed states, making it unlikely that the government would actually revoke funding for a school allowing state-legal medical marijuana use.
California, Illinois, Arizona, and Washington, DC recently passed laws guaranteeing students full access to their medicine during school hours.