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New California law allows medical marijuana at K-12 schools

Oct. 10, 2019
Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill that allows parents to administer medical cannabis to their children at their schools.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that paves the way for parents in some school districts to bring medical cannabis to their students at K-12 campuses,

The Los Angeles Times reports that the signing comes a year after then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation.

The measure allows medical cannabis that is not in smoking or vaping form to be administered to students by parents on campus if their school board has approved a policy providing the access.

In approving the bill, Newsom overruled the objections of law enforcement groups.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) says the bill is vital for helping the hundreds of students suffering from illnesses, including epilepsy, for which medical cannabis oils, creams and pills can help.

Hill says the bill is aimed at students “for whom medicinal cannabis is the only medication that works — so they can take their dose at school and then get on with their studies, without being removed from campus and without disrupting their educational experience or that of their classmates.”

Parents must obtain a doctor’s recommendation to administer the cannabis products on campus.

Scott Chipman of the group Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana called the bill an unnecessary “stunt,” noting the Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for epilepsy that is taken in the morning and evening.

“There is absolutely no reason they can’t get their dosage out of school hours,” Chipman said.

Los Angeles Unified School District board member Jackie Goldberg says she will support allowing parents to provide medical cannabis to their kids on campus and will ask the district’s health officials for a recommendation on a possible policy.

“I think it ought to be available as a need if the student’s family gets a prescription or a recommendation from a medical doctor for using it because it seems to have help for some people, particularly for epilepsy and a few other things,” says Goldberg, who noted the medication allowed by the bill is not the ingredient of cannabis that produces a “high.”

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, was dubbed JoJo’s Act by Hill in reference to a San Francisco Bay Area teenager with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. The boy’s mother, Karina Garcia, testified to lawmakers that JoJo takes medicinal cannabis tinctures to prevent debilitating seizures that had prevented him from attending school.

The California Police Chiefs Association opposed the bill. It says one of its top priorities “is to prevent any youth under the age of 21 from accessing all types of cannabis products.”

Until now, possession and use of medical marijuana was not permitted within 1,000 feet of a school. Parents had to take their children off campus for administration of daily doses.

If a school board agrees, parents and guardians would check in when arriving on campus to administer medicinal cannabis to the student, and must not expose other students to the products.

California follows eight other states, including Washington and Florida, in allowing medical cannabis to be used on K-12 campuses.

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