Medical Marijuana Could Be Allowed in CA K-12 Schools

The medical marijuana bill has been approved by the California state legislature, but Gov. Newsom has yet to indicate whether he intends to sign it.

The California Assembly last week passed a bill that gives school boards the authority to allow parents to give their children medical marijuana on the grounds of public K-12 schools. The bill now needs the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom to take effect.

An increasing number of children and teenagers in California and other states with legal medical marijuana use cannabis products in an effort to treat a variety of conditions, most commonly seizures. The new bill is named “Jojo’s Act” after Jojo Garcia, a high school student who needs daily doses of cannabis oil to control his seizures.

Currently, students who are registered medical marijuana patients must leave campus to have the cannabis administered.

“Jojo’s Act would enable students who are living with severe medical disabilities and rely on medicinal cannabis to take their medication on campus under strict conditions and supervision, so they can get on with their school day without disrupting their education,” said State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), the author of the measure.

Jojo’s mother Karina must currently come in the middle of the school day to administer the oil to her son, at least 1,000 feet away from school. Another parent who testified before the State Senate shared that the rule had caused her child to miss 10 percent of class time in total.

“I was watching my son die right before my eyes,” she said regarding her son’s condition prior to using medical marijuana. “It is not fair that this medicine that has saved my son’s life [would] not be given the same treatment as other pharmaceuticals on campus.”

The bill only allows non-smoking forms of oils, pills, and lotions to be administered to children by their parents.

The California School Boards Association endorsed the bill’s passage, saying in a letter to lawmakers, “Every child is entitled to an uninterrupted education.”

Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill last year, noting that it was “too broad.”

However, current Gov. Newsom (D) is a long-time legalization advocate, having supported the ballot initiative that legalized recreational use in California. He has yet to indicate whether he will sign Jojo’s Act.

“If and when the bill reaches the governor’s desk, it will be evaluated on its own merits,” said spokesperson Jesse Melgar, on behalf of Newsom.

Opposition Despite its Merits

Jojo’s Act was opposed by Republicans in California’s legislature, law enforcement groups, and anti-legalization advocates who don’t see cannabis as a legitimate medicine and feel it would somehow allow recreational drugs to be brought to school.

Republican lawmakers noted that California has a notoriously broad definition of what ailments can be treated by medical marijuana

“No one has ever been denied a recommendation,” said state Sen. Andreas Borgias (R-Modesto).

Similar school medical marijuana bills have been approved in Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and New Mexico.

While marijuana is illegal at the federal level, California approved a medical marijuana program 20 years ago. It was the first of what are now 33 states to do so.

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UPDATE: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, announced he signed the legislation to allow schools to permit parents to administer medical marijuana to their children on school campuses.