California lawmakers OK bill to allow medical cannabis on school grounds

California lawmakers advanced a bill this week that would allow parents to administer medical marijuana to their children in K-12 schools. 

The California State Assembly approved the measure which grants school boards to decide whether parents can give kids medical cannabis in a non-smoking form on their campuses. 

Senate Bill 223 was introduced by Senator Jerry Hill in February. Hill previously brought forward a similar bill in 2018 that was vetoed by then-Governor Jerry Brown. 

“Existing law allows schools to legally administer any pharmaceutical drug, including opioids, that a child has been prescribed. But there are medical conditions pharmaceuticals can’t fix, and they often have debilitating side effects. In some of these cases, medical cannabis is highly effective,” Hill said in a statement. 

He went on to emphasize the disruptions students that depend on medical marijuana face at school due to these legal restrictions. 

“Currently, these students must be picked up by their parents, signed out, and taken off campus in order to take their medicine. This is disruptive to their learning. Every child is entitled to an uninterrupted education,” he noted. 

Although marijuana has been legal in California for three years, cannabis is prohibited within 1,000 feet of school campuses in the state. On the other hand, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, and New Mexico allow cannabis on school grounds. 

Senator Hill said that the proposal was inspired by San Francisco high school student Giovanni Jo Jo Jimenez, who suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy

The debilitating seizures prevented Jo Jo from attending school regularly over the years. However, his mother claims that after having started medical marijuana treatment her son now rarely experiences seizures and was able to graduate successfully. 

If the California bill passes a final vote in the Senate, the legislation will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom to sign. 

In Illinois, Governor J. B. Pritzker signed the measure enabling students to receive their marijuana-based treatment at school or in school buses last year. The bill dubbed Ashley’s Law was expanded earlier this month to allow students to take their cannabis medicine under the supervision of a school administrator or nurse, rather than just their parents. 

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