Ever since Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012, allowing adults 21 years or older to legally possess one ounce of marijuana (28 grams) for recreational purposes, the “green rush” to the Centennial state has been fully lit and shows no signs of being extinguished anytime soon. But just as fast and furious as the excitement over the passing of the bill is the blow back from school districts who bluntly resist allowing any medical marijuana use on school grounds, due to the fact that marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the law.
However, in May of this year, the stigma around medical marijuana started burning away in Falcon School District 49 in Colorado Springs. Sand Creek High stakes claim as the first school in Colorado to allow the use of medical marijuana on its premises — good news for student Jackson “Jax” Stormes and his mother, Jennie. The school suspended the 16-year-old last May after staff members found him in possession of cannabis oil pills mixed in with yogurt that his mom mistakenly packed in his lunch box. Stormes suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of intractable epilepsy that plagues him with uncontrolled seizures, along with Juvenile Parkinson’s Disease. His mom says that cannabis oil decreases the number of her son’s seizures significantly.
“In 2012, we pretty much ran out of options. We started cannabis, and almost immediately he did better. His seizures were in better control. He was just starting to thrive and do so much better,” said Stormes.
Named for her son, “Jax’s Policy” was unanimously approved by the Colorado Association of School Boards in a 5-0 vote. Colorado is the second state (after New Jersey) to allow students to use non-smokable, non-inhalable cannabinoids for approved medical conditions. However, as a contrast with medicines for ADHD and asthma that the school nurse dispenses for students, medical marijuana edibles and lotions must be administered by a parent, certified caregiver or hired medical professional, as federal law would not allow a school staff member to distribute the products.
What is allowed, however, is the distribution of state revenue from marijuana sales for Sand Creek and District 49. Thanks to Proposition BB, the school will get a piece of the pot pie in the form of capital construction grants infused into the $7 million per year that D-49 already receives in federal funds. The hope is that by enticing other school districts with the prospect of receiving additional monies for allowing medical marijuana on their campuses, this will in turn help decrease negative sentiment associated with using medical marijuana. At the very least, school administrators and faculty members can start to slowly accept that the budding use of medical marijuana is a growing movement by parents (and others) who want to become proactive agents regarding the healthcare and well-being of their children.
As an emerging pot culture increasingly bumps up against the context and constraints of a federal law that categorizes cannabis as criminal, schools and their students will unfortunately remain in the weeds as our society learns, albeit slowly, that medical marijuana provides needed relief and real health benefits for a myriad of symptoms and medical ailments. Colorado schools wishing to share in the financial representation via pot taxation will have to get on board with recognizing that no seeds shall be reaped without acknowledging and adopting policies that recognize the rights of students to use medical marijuana on their campuses.