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New Colorado Law Allows School Nurses to Distribute Medical Marijuana To Students with Epilepsy and Tourette

epileptic child

Image Credits: Neurology Advisor

There was a time when a student bringing a note from home might have been used to get out of swimming classes, or excuse from some missing homework, or explain their absence last week, however, a note from a parent in Colorado is quite different than what it used to be earlier.

Parents are now sending their kids with written notes to allow them to use medical marijuana during school premises. A 2018 law signed by then-Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, school nurses were allowed to administer medical marijuana to students.

The previous law had allowed a student’s primary caregiver to deliver non-smokable medical marijuana to a student, however the new ruling allowed a school nurse or a school nurse’s designee, who necessarily doesn’t have to be employed by the school, to possess and administer medical marijuana to a student at the school.

The new also gives detailed instructions about the storage of medical marijuana – the container or plan for administration must be clearly mentioned “labelled” including dosing, timing, delivery route instructions from a medical expert or a physician.

A written plan must be approved before the student starts their school. It also outlines how medical marijuana must be kept safely with high privacy in a locked storage container and must be handled only by the school nurse or a designee.

Any amount of unused medical marijuana has to be given back to the student’s parent or caregiver upon request. The law also emphasizes on how marijuana shouldn’t be handled by the student at school, on the bus or at any school event to ensure safety and proper medication.

An updated law in 2019 has also expanded the paediatric population which can receive medical marijuana, for example, HB19-1028 removes some of the physician restrictions for prescribing medical marijuana to individuals who suffer from autism who are also under the age of 18.

Nurses have a mixed reaction towards the update, while some are citing fear of retribution without a federal mandate for protecting them for distribution of the drug, others appreciated the move and felt it could bring a change in the medical industry.

For example, after a Vice article on the topic was shared, a nurse in the online Facebook group commented, saying that she is totally okay with the new law. She also explained how most kids use CBD for seizure disorders and that it is a potent treatment which has worked so many kids where even modern day medications have failed.

Another nurse commented saying that medical marijuana research findings have shown a significant alleviation of uncontrolled symptoms that affect the quality of one’s life, even in the paediatric population.

Contrary to the aforementioned, another Facebook commenter showed concerns regarding the repercussions of distributing CBD out to kids. He asked what would be the defense in Federal court if the DEA shows up and arrests the nurse on a federal drug charge. He further added that saying Colorado doesn’t have state law against it will protect them from the feds and from being convicted and losing their nursing license. “Until it is legal federally, it is really not legal!” said the nurse.

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According to Vice, the initial law dubbed the “Quintin Amendment,” was enacted after a movement which was started by the family of a third-grader named Quintin Lovato to legalize the use of medical marijuana in schools. Lovato’s family had petitioned for medical marijuana as a part of his treatment for epileptic seizures and Tourette’s syndrome, as his healthcare team had found that 2 daily doses of CBD oil helped reduce his symptoms, including seizures and vocal tics.

Quintin’s parents had been working at day jobs which meant they could only be available for the little boy at a specific time of the day and not always. This is why they found the caregiver administration only law restrictive in nature and wanted more flexibility for Quintin to receive his does at school.

By allowing a school nurse to administer his mid-day dose helped his parents to ensure that his treatment regime as being followed right on track and he was able to have the most effective results from the CBD oil.

According to the Colorado law, only medical CBD oil is meant to be used for students who suffer from epilepsy and ailments like Tourette. It does not allow or extend to any smokable or edible forms of marijuana, which advocates point out is an important distinction.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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