Colorado Bill Would Let School Nurses Administer Medical Cannabis

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

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As medical cannabis becomes a more commonly-used remedy for people of all ages across the United States, awareness of issues related to underage patients is becoming more widespread.

With the increased use of cannabidiol (CBD) as an anticonvulsant for epileptic patients and others, these children are in need of their doses while they are at school during the week.

(John Ziomek/Camden Courier-Post via AP)

Laura and Genny Barbour

In 2015, Roger and Lora Barbour’s parents filed a lawsuit on behalf of their epileptic-autistic daughter Genny to allow a school nurse to administer her mid-day dosage of cannabis oil. At the time, Genny would attend school for the first half of the day but have to come home to receive her medicine.

An administrative law judge denied the family’s suit when he ruled that Genny’s cannabis use would violate a state law that banned drug use in school zones.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

As a result of the failed lawsuit, the A4587 bill was written and signed into law by then-governor Chris Christie. The measure required “facilities providing services to persons with developmental disabilities and schools to adopt policies permitting administration of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.”

Following the revolutionary bill’s passage, parents and caregivers of school-aged cannabis patients were allowed to administer non-smokable forms of cannabis to their child on-campus in the presence of a school employee.

As New Jersey became the first state to allow medicinal marijuana to be administered to a child patient on school grounds, others began to follow suit.

Delaware passed SB 181 in 2016, an amendment to SB 90 (Rylie’s Law) which passed in 2015 and expanded the state’s medical cannabis program to include children.

SB 181 allowed “designated caregivers to possess and administer, and minor qualifying patients to use, medical marijuana oil for minor qualifying patients on school buses and on the grounds of the preschool, primary, or secondary school in which the minor qualifying patient is enrolled.”

(David Zalubowski, The Associated Press)

CO Governor John Hickenlooper with Jack Splitt

Colorado passed legislation in 2016 as well which allowed non-smokable forms of medicinal cannabis to be given to qualified patients on school grounds by their primary caregiver. Also known as Jack’s Law, HB 16-1373 enabled children who rely on cannabis oil to treat their conditions to receive it and still attend school.

But like the other states’ laws, it required a caregiver to bring the cannabis medicine to the child and leave after administering the dose.

There are guidelines set in place for children across the United States who require some kind of medication during the school day. School nurses routinely store and administer drugs to those who need them on a regular basis or infrequently as needed.

But even in states with relevant laws in place for children, school nurses are not allowed to administer the medical cannabis like they are with many prescription drugs, though that may be changing with the introduction of one of Colorado’s latest House Bills.

On Thursday, March 8, Colorado lawmakers introduced HB 18-1286 to expand the reach of Jack’s Law to allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to registered patients at school instead of requiring a parent or caregiver to perform the task.

The new bill would amend current state law and allow that a “primary caregiver or school nurse or the school nurse’s designee, who may or may not be an employee of the school, may possess, and administer to a student who holds a valid recommendation for medical marijuana, medical marijuana in nonsmokeable form upon the grounds of the preschool or primary or secondary school in which the student is enrolled, or upon a school bus or at a school-sponsored event.”

According to the text of the bill, any remaining medicinal cannabis is to be removed from school grounds following its administration.

The bill is sponsored by Representative Dylan Roberts (D), Irene Aguilar (D), and Vicki Marble (R) and is being currently considered by the House Health, Insurance, and Environment Committee.