Colorado school districts are struggling with how to deal with “Jack’s Law,” allowing students access to medical cannabis while on school grounds.
The law — dubbed “Jack’s Law”, after the 15-year-old cerebral palsy victim who fought for its passage, Jack Splitt — allows either school districts to determine where exactly on school campuses medical cannabis may be administered to students, or, if the districts fail to act, allows parents or caregivers to determine where to administer the substance with little to no limitations from school officials.
“It’s an either/or for the school districts,” says a member of the state Legislature, Rep. Johnathan Singer (D-Longmont), who was a sponsor and proponent of the bill’s passage. “Ultimately, the school districts can figure it out… or the state will figure it out for you.”
While many districts in the state have written policies that stipulate how exactly they would like the substance to be handled among student patients, others — including Denver Public Schools — have neglected to do so, stating that cannabis remains a Schedule I Federally Controlled substance and doing so would fly in the face of federal law.
The legal conundrum presented to school districts is not lost on Rep. Singer.
“Marijuana is still a Class 1 controlled substance, and there are some nervous folks out there that don’t want to deal with that in the classroom,” he says. “And school districts have a lot on their shoulders now, and my guess is that most will wait on dealing with a policy or student until it’s a pressing need or issue.”
Splitt and his mother, Stacey Linn, pioneered Jack’s law that bears his name after a school official ripped a patch off of his arm that was delivering medical cannabis. The substance helped him manage the debilitating symptoms of his cerebral palsy.
The work by Splitt and his mother were crucial in the passage of a bill that assured children would be able to access non-smokable cannabis on Colorado school grounds. They followed up the passage of the bill by successfully lobbying for the passage of another bill, which allows for parents to administer the substance directly to their children while at school.
Sadly, Splitt died last week after succumbing to the symptoms of his condition.
Despite the help that the substance and its ancillary products have been shown to provide students, educational institutions are nonetheless wary of its potential implications. Matt Cook, the director of public policy and advocacy for the Colorado Association of School Boards, warns that Jack’s law may place institutions in a legal gray area.
“We don’t want to put any school district in a position where they are violating Jack’s law,” he says.
And yet, he says, the educational institutions involved also understand the stakes involved for many suffering children who may be provided demonstrable relief through the use of medical cannabis.
“We are clearly with these students,” he says, “and it’s not our intent to harm these kids.”
In addition to assisting children with the effects of such medical conditions as cerebral palsy and epilepsy, medical cannabis has also been shown to assist veterans in their fights against PTSD and addiction to prescription painkillers.