Re-2 board considers medical marijuana issue
When it comes to administering medical marijuana on school grounds to children with a valid prescription, the practice should reflect that of other prescriptions drugs.
That was the position voiced by the Garfield School District Re-2 Board of Education earlier this week in addressing a matter stemming from state legislation approved earlier this year.
The act, known as “Jack’s Law,” named after the 15-year-old boy who suffered from cerebral palsy prior to his death in August, allows a primary caregiver to possess and administer non-smokable medical marijuana to a child with a valid prescription on school grounds. The caregiver, frequently a parent, must administer the drug in a way that does not disrupt the educational environment or expose other students.
The law does not require school district staff to administer medical marijuana, and it provides districts the option to define who constitutes a primary caregiver, as well as reasonable parameters for administering the drug.
It also provides an exemption for districts that lose federal money as a result of implementing such policies.
A very small number of children younger than 18 years old are on the state’s medical marijuana registry, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. As of Aug. 31, 344 children were registered, accounting for .3 percent of the current and active total patients in the registry. Seizures were cited as the top reported ailment for the age group.
Although Garfield Re-2 officials are not aware of any children with a valid medical marijuana prescription in the district, there was general agreement that it is only a matter of time.
“I think it’s important to let whoever the first person … might be and just tell them ‘look, this is new to us as well so we’re going to work together to try and get through this,’” board member Jacquelyn Johnson said.
The board Tuesday was presented with a sample policy drafted by the Colorado Association of School Boards. That sample, within a series of parameters, would allow for a primary caregiver to administer medical marijuana to a qualified student in locations designated by the district.
However after consulting with the district nurse, the recommendation was that a caregiver or parent administer medical marijuana off of school grounds, Superintendent Brent Curtice said.
That recommendation raised concerns from board members who felt requiring a student to go off campus would be disruptive
“I don’t think that’s reasonable to tell a parent that they have to take their child off campus,” said Anne Guettler, board president.
Board members stated they would prefer to treat medical marijuana the same as other prescription drugs, such as medication commonly used to combat attention deficit disorder.
In those cases, students are required to go to a nurses office where the drugs are kept in a locked cabinet, according to Dave Lindenberg, assistant superintendent.
Uniformity across the board would help ensure that everyone is being treated the same, board member Brock Hedberg said.
“I think that we handle marijuana just the same as we handle any other prescription drug. … I think that’s a better practice. Then we’re taking everyone into consideration. There’s no loopholes there with this pill can be given by a nurse but you can take this on a school bus,” Hedberg said.
“I agree with Brock, we should treat it like any other medication that we have at the school,” board member Jay Rickstrew added.
The board directed staff to have legal counsel review the medical marijuana policy submitted by the Association of School Boards and try to align it with its current prescription drug policy.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.