A bill that would allow children with certain debilitating conditions to take marijuana oil while attending school has been passed by the New Jersey legislature and is headed to the desk of Gov. Christie.
Only children who had been issued marijuana identification cards by the state Health Department would be eligible for the treatment. The Senate granted final approval Monday after the Assembly voted in favor of an identical bill.
"We're talking about some of the state's most severely disabled students, some of whom suffer life-threatening seizures, and medical marijuana is the only thing that has helped ease their condition," said Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D., Camden), who sponsored the bill with Pamela Lampitt (D., Camden).
In recent months, parents of students who suffer from seizure disorders have appealed school policies that prohibit the use of marijuana on school grounds even by children with marijuana IDs, according to a statement released by the bill sponsors.
In one case, a Maple Shade student is now attending school part-time so that she can get the midday dose of cannabis that her parents say control her seizures. Roger and Lora Barbour sued their town's school district and the Larc School for the developmentally disabled in Bellmawr, saying Genny, 16, was being deprived of her medical needs, according to a NJ Advance Media report. An administrative law judge found in favor of the schools, citing the federal prohibition against marijuana, but the parents are appealing.
"Eliminating ambiguities in our current law will help ease the concerns of school districts who might fear liability," Lampitt said in a statement. "This simple change in the law will help parents ensure that their children do not suffer throughout the day when relief is so near at hand."
The bill would authorize parents, guardians, or primary caregivers to administer medical marijuana on school grounds, on a school bus, and at a school-sponsored activity, in a location the school designates. The drug must be in a non-smokable form.
The bill also calls for the chief administrator of a private facility that provides services to students with developmental disabilities to create a similar policy to accommodate children who need cannabis treatment.