The Colorado Senate passed a bill this week to expand student access to medical cannabis during school hours. The measure, Senate Bill 21-056, was passed by the Colorado Senate on Wednesday with a 33-1 vote. Under the law, children with complicated medical conditions could receive cannabis-based medication from school staff on campus. The action is now being sent to the Colorado House of Representatives for review.
Current Colorado law provides that school districts allow parents and caregivers to possess and administer medicinal cannabis to children on school premises. However, it is at the discretion of the school principals whether school staff can possess and administer cannabis medication.
The law passed by the Senate on Wednesday removes that discretion and instructs school districts to implement guidelines that will allow school staff to own and administer cannabis medication to students who need it. The measure would allow school staff to follow a treatment created by a student’s doctor. The law also protects school staff who own and manage medical cannabis from criminal and civil liability.
Parents urge lawmakers to pass the law
At a Senate Education Committee hearing last month, parents of medicinal cannabis patients explained the difficulties they face in administering medicinal cannabis to their children. Some parents said they had to leave work to treat their child on school grounds. Others said they chose to keep their children distance learning because it was easier to administer cannabis at home.
Mark Porter told lawmakers his family moved to Colorado from another state to get access to medical cannabis for their daughter Sarah, who has Crohn’s disease. She has seen significant improvements in medical cannabis, but her high school hasn’t updated its guidelines to allow school staff to administer their medication. As a result, Sarah continued distance learning instead of being on campus with her peers.
“Are we just sending it with you discreetly, hoping they don’t get caught?” Asked Porter at the February hearing. “We shouldn’t have to. There is nothing my child does that is wrong. “
Student access to medical cannabis in school has been a controversial issue in Colorado for years. In 2016, lawmakers passed the Jack Act, which gave school districts the power to write guidelines for the administration of medical cannabis to students. In 2018, Quintin’s change followed, named for Quintin Lovato, a young Colorado boy with epilepsy. The change made it possible for school staff to administer medication to students.
At last month’s hearing, Quintin’s mother, Hannah Lovato, urged lawmakers to pass Senate Law 21-056 so that kids like Sarah and Benjamin Wann, a college student with epilepsy, can see the same success that Quintin has.
“With Quintin’s amendment passed into legal law, school districts can choose who gets their life-saving drugs and who could potentially die,” Lovato said. “Why is my son more important than when? Why is my son more important than the porter’s? “
“The system we have is already in place and my son is living proof,” Lovato told lawmakers.