The school board in Auburn, Maine has voted to allow medical marijuana to be administered to students while on school property.
Auburn schools voted to follow recommendations from the Maine School Management Association to implement a policy concerning medical marijuana, which was passed late last week by school officials during a committee meeting.
The new policy, which allows students with medical marijuana certificates to be given the drug by their primary caregiver on school grounds, will go into effect immediately at all Auburn schools for students from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade. School nurses will not have the ability to bring the drug onto school grounds or administer it to any student, said Auburn Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan.
Under the policy, staff members are protected from liability and students are given a safe place on campus for their treatment. The policy will only apply to non-smokable versions of the drug, reports Courtney Sturgeon for WMTW.
School leaders approved a draft of the policy last month, saying few people stood in opposition.
"There was plenty of opportunity for people to voice that, and we've had none, which I think is a reflection of the community's acceptance of the need of something like this," said Tom Kendall, chairman of the Auburn School Committee. "We've also had no requests. Nothing has happened in our schools. We've had no immediate need to pass this policy. We're just getting out in front of the issue."
The policy raises some questions for school officials, including how it will be administered, prevention of redistribution by students, and the very legality of having the drug on campus. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 23 states, along with Washington, DC and Guam, allowed medical marijuana, but only three states have established rules for schools.
While medical marijuana has been legal in some states for 20 years, school districts and lawmakers are only now faced with making decisions concerning the use of a drug that is still illegal under federal law.
Just two months ago a school in New Jersey became the first in the nation to allow medical marijuana. The policy was implemented at the Larc School after 16-year-old Genny Barbour, who suffers from life-threatening seizures, fought for the right to take the medication in edible form while on school grounds. Genny receives her midday dose of cannabis oil from a nurse at the special education school.
Colorado law allows parents or caregivers to come onto campus in order to administer the medication if such a policy exists in individual school districts. School nurses and other staff members do not have the right to give the drug to students.
While supporters of the drug use it to treat everything from seizures to chronic pain, others feel the change could cause the school to be in violation of federal laws that outlaw marijuana.