As compared to other U.S. states, for many years, Florida has been behind on implementing a medical marijuana program for its residents who suffer from a variety of painful medical conditions, diseases, and other ailments. However, as of June 23rd of 2016, Florida’s governor signed the legislation after 71 percent of Florida’s voters said “yes” on the amendment to implement a medical marijuana program, according to FSBA.org. Florida residents expressed their outspoken enthusiasm after the program was put into place, but Governor Rick Scott went further and added another amendment, which Florida school districts must abide by.
To the Nurse’s Office
Florida’s medical marijuana program was approved last year, but on top of that, the state’s school districts are required to store, administer, and overall allow students with medical marijuana cards to consume the product on school property. However, to this day, as stated by WCTV, over sixty Florida school districts still do not have a concrete solution as to how they will properly store and/or administer medical marijuana to prescribed kids. Andrea Messina, the President of the Florida School Board Association, stated following: “Districts are working on plans, but a lack of guidance from the Department of Education is complicating things.”
According to Florida’s medical marijuana law, children with certain debilitating disabilities can legally consume medical cannabis through oil, capsules, and/or edibles at school, but they must have a prescription from a Florida approved doctor as well as a basic doctor recommendation to consume it.
Pedagogues, Not Pushers
Unfortunately, many of the state’s districts have been and continue to be at a crossroads because they have not received specific instructions and guidance as to how they can legally help students at school who have medical marijuana cards. As mentioned by Inquisitr.com, Florida law insists that all school districts must find an effective way to store and administer medical marijuana, the same as other traditional pharmaceutical medications.
So far, the state law does not mention which people can legally administer the marijuana because currently, the only person who can give medical marijuana to minors is an authorized caregiver. Thus, Florida needs to find a way to allow school employees/staff members to act as a temporary in-school caregiver for students who need their marijuana during the day.
Get the Ball Rolling
As a result, most school districts are at a standstill as far as where to go next regarding the recently added medical marijuana amendment. As noted by Inquisitr.com about this predicament, as soon as one or two school districts think of proper guidelines in regards to administering medical marijuana to prescribed students and then successfully execute them, the remaining school districts will most likely do the same.
Although the recent Florida legislature instructs school districts to develop policies on administering medical marijuana to prescribed students, it failed to provide clarity regarding what those policies should specifically look like, as mentioned by Tallahassee Democrat. Thus far, Florida’s Department of Education has not given any sort of specific instructions to districts, which has caused a great deal of confusion and many unanswered questions.
The Threat of Federal Law
Since marijuana remains federally illegal in the U.S. and the government still enforces drug-free workplace and school policies, the majority of Florida school districts fear losing federal funding and being held liable for helping students who have a prescribed medical marijuana card.
In particular, Lisa Maxwell, the head of the Broward County Principals’ & Assistants Association, expressed to Sun-Sentinel her unwillingness to cooperate with the state’s recent amendment because she is afraid that she and her colleagues could potentially face legal issues with the U.S. federal government. Maxwell does not want to be put in a situation where she and the members of Broward County schools may face criminal prosecution for administering medical marijuana to minors.
Other school districts have similar worries, including Leon County schools. Terri Anderson, the school’s health and wellness coordinator, told USAToday the following: “The agency is very concerned by the sweeping change. They’re violating their laws by dispensing something that’s not FDA approved. And that’s their determination, not ours. They are the healthcare professionals.” Due to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, school districts are much more skeptical and less willing to follow the recent Florida amendment.
As a result, many school districts are asking parents to give their child their medicine before school, after school, or a parent/caregiver can physically come to the school and administer it, as also mentioned by Alan Cox, the assistant superintendent of Leon County schools. Regardless of the different school districts’ views and opinions of this matter, by Florida law, cannabis policies must be implemented into schools and all teachers and staff must abide by them. As of Friday, August 4th, the Florida Department of Health reported that 26,968 medical cardholders have been prescribed medical cannabis, and that number will continue to increase.
Priority #1: Help the Kids
Overall, Florida’s governor had great intentions when he signed the medical marijuana legislature, as well as when he enacted the requirement for school districts to develop policies on administering medical marijuana to prescribed students. Even though various superintendents, principals, teachers, and other education heads aren’t excited about this change due to what it could mean regarding federal funding, what really matters is the students and their wellbeing.
By Florida law, children with certain debilitating diseases have the right to legally consume medical marijuana in addition to consuming it at school, as long as it is in the form of an oil, capsule, or edible. At the end of the day, Florida school districts will have to put concrete cannabis policies in place and stand by them, but setting policy takes time, so it may be a little while before the policies are fully finalized.
Article by: Nicole Skrobin