A school board in Maine has joined a small but growing number of governments that allow schoolchildren to use their medical marijuana on campus.
The decision applies only to the school district that serves Auburn, Maine. But it could signal a rapid evolution of medical cannabis law, experts say.
“It tells me that certain medical marijuana states are really maturing,” said Marta Downing of Coo Cana Care Docs, an advocacy group in neighboring Massachusetts.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999, just three years after California adopted the first MMJ law in the world. Maine is considered a strong bet for full legalization in the November election.
The school board decided that effective in January, students in pre-kindergarten though high school would be allowed to have a parent or caregiver administer medical cannabis at school as long as they have valid MMJ ID cards.
Parents must administer drugs
The rules aren’t perfect. Similar restrictions in other locales have drawn complaints from parents who say they can’t afford to leave work to give their kids medicine. School nurses should be allowed to do it, they say.
What’s more, the new policy bars smoking, though that likely won’t prove a problem for most students, as they typically consume concentrates or tinctures. Those are usually high in CBD and low in THC. The former chemical is non-intoxicating and especially useful in treating epilepsy, while the latter gets users high.
Colorado and a single school district in New Jersey have already legalized on-campus use of medical marijuana. Experts in other states say the changes are likely to spread. Downing of Massachusetts said her state is likely to adopt similar rules within a matter of years.
“I would say it’s five years away from a school board voting almost unanimously allowing children to use a cannabinoid therapy,” she said.
Campaign to let students take their own marijuana
Though Colorado has approved student use of MMJ statewide, most of the fight is currently at the local level, with parents and advocates trying to convince more school boards to let students take their marijuana when they need it.
“School districts are trying to find their way and navigate this landscape as laws develop and social norms change,” said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. “This is a situation in which the changing social norms are ahead of the existing operational structure.”
Parents have complained that rules against on-campus consumption hurt their children. Morning doses may help into the early afternoon, but they wear off, leaving the children to suffer through the rest of the day until they can return home for a new dose. Some parents of children with epilepsy say the number and severity of seizures increase through the afternoon until school ends.