Colorado Could Permit Medical Marijuana Use on School Grounds

By McCarton Ackerman 05/07/15

Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign a groundbreaking new law that will have wide-ranging ramifications for medical pot.

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Colorado is one signature away from establishing a groundbreaking new law that will allow kids who are cleared to use medical marijuana to have it on school grounds.

The bill passed the state legislature this Monday and only needs a signature from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to be put into effect, which would make it the first state to approve such a measure.

Democratic Rep. John Singer introduced the proposal known as “Jack’s Amendment,” which was inspired by 14-year-old Jack Splitt. Both the boy and his personal nurse had been reprimanded at his school for putting a medical marijuana patch on his arm that was prescribed by doctors to help his spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and dystonia.

If approved, any parent or caregiver with a doctor’s note can come on school grounds and administer medical marijuana in the form of a patch. Smokeable forms of medical marijuana will not be allowed. The amendment looks to address discrepancies in the state’s permission of medical marijuana and the federal government’s classification of it as a Schedule I drug. The current status means that schools would essentially be violating the law if they permitted medical marijuana use in no-drug school zones.

A representative for Gov. Hickenlooper said he is expecting to sign the bill. It will have a direct impact on the more-than 500 kids throughout the state who are cleared to use medical marijuana to help alleviate painful symptoms associated with conditions including epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and seizures.

“Jack’s Amendment will assure that children don’t have to choose between going to school and taking their medicine,” said Singer. “We allow children to take all sorts of psychotropic medications, whether it’s Ritalin or opiate painkillers, under supervised circumstances. We should do the same here.”

However, the new bill doesn’t address what the penalties will be for students or adults who don’t follow the proposed rules. Colorado currently carries eight-year prison sentences for illicit sales in no-drug school zones. It’s also expected that the amendment will receive some backlash.

“Even in a tightly regulated regime, I don’t think more marijuana in the schools is a better idea,” said Robert O’Brien, former advisor on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, to “The kids need to get the treatment they deserve. If it’s an efficacious treatment, that’s great. But I don’t want that in the schools.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.