New Jersey Allows Cannabis in Schools for Autistic and Epileptic TeenLisa RoughNovember 17, 2015
It seems that Chris Christie, New Jersey governor and staunch cannabis opponent who once referred to cannabis sales as “blood money” and stated “I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk,” may have had a change of heart thanks to one young New Jersey resident diagnosed with autism and epilepsy.
Genny Barbour is 16 years old and suffers from such severe autism and epilepsy that she was nearly nonverbal, only able to articulate a single word at a time – “eat,” “drink,” “bathroom.” With frequent seizures and agitation, she was having difficulty in school and at home.
At their wits end and fed up with various pharmaceutical solutions that offered no relief from seizures, her parents, Roger and Lora Barbour, asked their doctor about the possibility of medical marijuana last September.
Genny was put on a regimen of four doses of cannabis oil per day. The change was significant – her verbal skills improved, her seizures decreased, and her school saw such a remarkable progress that her teachers were able to increase the rigor of Genny’s lesson plan.
The relief cannabis oil brought Genny, her parents, and her educators was short-lived. It became clear that administering medical marijuana in any form would not be allowed on school grounds. The severity of her symptoms was such that even one missed dose could cause her condition to deteriorate, agitating Genny sometimes to the point of harming herself.
Inspired by Genny and her story, Chris Christie took a step into the unknown and signed a bill allowing parents or primary guardians to administer edible cannabis on school premises without putting the school at risk for liability.
This will be the first school in the nation to allow cannabis of any kind on campus, and will provide relief for Genny, who has resorted to half-days at school in order to maintain her regimen.
Her parents still have another hurdle to overcome – authorizing school officials to administer Genny’s medicine, which they intend to fight for. In the meantime, one young girl is getting a new chance for education and life.