Schools seek advice on medical marijuana use

About 30 states now have laws that allow the use of marijuana, mostly for medical purposes. Schools in those states are thus confronted with a confusing question: Should they allow students to use marijuana for medical purposes on campus?

According to the Education Commission of the States, while many states allow medical marijuana, only a few of those states explicitly allow its use on school campuses. In 2016, those states included Maine, Colorado, New Jersey, and Washington state.

The state of Oklahoma in June enacted a medical marijuana law, and the law passed in that state doesn’t have a specific provision that allows the use in schools, the Tulsa World reports.

“Federal law provides for the Drug-Free Workplace Act, which prohibits controlled substances from being present in the work place,” the paper quotes written guidance from a law firm that represents several hundred public school districts in the state as saying.

“This means that school districts which allow the administration, use, or possession of medical marijuana by students or employees risk losing their federal funding. School districts should continue to enforce their current policies prohibiting the use, possession, or administration of marijuana on school district property. As a result, all employees, including school nurses, are prohibited by law from administering or dispensing marijuana,” they wrote.

The conflict between federal laws, which prohibit the use of marijuana in places of employment that receive federal funds, like schools, and new state laws that allow the use of marijuana by prescribed students has also shed some light on Florida’s new law, which explicitly includes use of medical marijuana in schools:

Each district school board shall adopt a policy and a procedure for allowing a student who is a qualified patient … to use marijuana. … Such policy and procedure shall ensure access by the qualified patient; identify how the marijuana will be received, accounted for, and stored; and establish process to prevent access by other students and school personnel whose access would be unnecessary for the implementation of the policy.

—Florida Statutes

But many attorneys and other legal experts are pointing out that state law can’t supersede federal law, USA Today reports.

“As a district, we will not store medical marijuana,” the paper quoted Rob Spicker, district spokesman for Lee County, as saying. “It is a federal crime to possess it. Parents of children whose use is approved will need to bring the prescription to school at the time it is administered so it can be taken by the child.”

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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