A remarkable breakthrough for medical marijuana patient rights just passed a hurdle in Maine, a state with one of the most progressive medical marijuana programs in the country. Their latest move comes in the form of an unprecedented bill that has not been introduced in any other state yet.
Legislative Document 557 is a bill to allow children to take prescribed medical marijuana on school grounds if a parent or guardian comes to the school to administer the medication. This approach will allow children to attend school who otherwise might be too ill. It also removes liability from school nurses and personnel, as schools are federally funded so administering a drug that is federally illegal creates an ethical obstacle for the school’s administration.
The Maine Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee approved the bill, allowing it to pass on to the full legislature for consideration. One of the bill's stipulations is that cannabis may not be smoked and must instead be delivered in another form, such as an oil, tincture, or edible. The child’s health care provider must offer a recommendation of medical marijuana for the minor and provide documentation to the school.
An interesting insight into this development reveals that many of those legislators who approved this bill are explicitly not cannabis supporters.
“I’m kind of stunned I’m voting yes on this,” said Representative Michael McClellan (R-Raymond).
There were 10 legislators on the committee, most of whom expressed reservations about the idea of cannabis being allowed to be used by minors on a public school campus. However, testimony from parents of affected children, particularly those with intractable epilepsy, cancer, and those who would be unable to attend school without their medication, helped sway their opinions.
“We are respectfully requesting that our children who are using medical marijuana as legal patients in our home state to control medical conditions be allowed the right to continue to safely attend school. These are children, not criminals; patients, not felons. All children have a right to a free and public education,” said Susan Meehan, the mother of a severely ill child.
It’s still too soon to say whether this bill will become a law, but seeing this kind of progressive legislation gives us all a lot of hope for the future of cannabis, of education, of medicine, and how these seemingly different areas actually have a lot in common.