Legislation represents a new milestone in U.S. state with greatest number of K-12 public school students
When it comes to cannabis reform, California is still at the head of the class.
The new year brought with it a new law that will allow parents and guardians in the Golden State to administer medical marijuana to public K-12 students. Previously, cannabis possession or use was not allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, according to Anita Sabine, a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips who specializes in cannabis law.
“Since the pediatric conditions most effectively treated by cannabis require regular treatment, the objective of the law is to ensure that parents and guardians of students who need medicinal cannabis are not compelled to pull their children out of class and remove them from campus to administer needed medication,” Sabine said.
California has around 6 million students enrolled in K-12 — the most of any state in the U.S. — and the new law, known as JoJo’s act, reflects the normalization of cannabis use for medical purposes, Sabine said. It is also notable in that it does not force any of the state’s 1,000 or so school districts to create policies around cannabis use, but, instead, gives them the option of participating.
“Absent the adoption of local policies, the use of medicinal cannabis at school sites will continue to be prohibited,” Sabine said. “In many ways, the law is flexible. While it establishes baseline requirements, it permits local governing bodies to create a medicinal cannabis policy that best suits them and their student populations.”
To put school boards further at ease, the new law also includes a “safety valve” that allows them to modify their existing cannabis policies quickly if “exigent circumstances” arise that threaten funding. The legislation is a measured approach that Sabine said does a good job of considering the needs of all parties.
“It does not force school districts to adopt policies around medicinal cannabis, and it does not require school personnel to administer it,” she said. “While some may disagree with the use of medicinal cannabis among K–12 students, Jojo’s Act rightfully places that choice with communities and families,” she added.
“The decision to adopt or forego a medicinal cannabis policy is made at the local level, and the ultimate decision-maker regarding use and administration is a parent or guardian,” Sabine said.
Written by David Yasvinski