Columns, Opinion

Cannabis Culture: Students should be allowed medical marijuana in schools

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes first began in California in 1996. Today, there are a total of 33 states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

In New Mexico, parents have been pleading with state legislators to pass laws that would allow their children to have medical marijuana administered to them while on school grounds. 

Although the Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana in its raw form as a medicine, research has shown that marijuana can be used to treat and mitigate the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases and other ailments such as autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, eating disorders and epilepsy.

These conditions and others often have debilitating symptoms that negatively impact quality of life and may require the patient to be on a cocktail of medications with adverse side effects. But the use of medical marijuana has helped many patients cope with the side effects of their medications and the symptoms of their conditions.

The benefits of medical marijuana are evident through the number of states that have chosen to legalize it. However, due to marijuana being illegal federally and public schools falling under federal regulation, the state of New Mexico has taken a stance against medical marijuana being administered to students by the school.

The federal court’s ruling in New Mexico banning a student from accessing medical marijuana in order to prevent seizures is truly disappointing. Medical marijuana has been proven as an effective way to prevent debilitating and sometimes life threatening seizures and the decision by the federal court in New Mexico sets a dangerous precedent. 

By prohibiting medical marijuana in schools, schools are putting their students that rely on that medication at risk and in effect their educational experience is interrupted. 

Some view keeping medical marijuana out of schools as a good thing because of the preconceived notion of kids getting high. However, one New Mexico mother pleaded with lawmakers by explaining that the medical marijuana her son uses acts an antipsychotic medication and does not produce intoxicating effects like recreational marijuana.

The use of medical marijuana on school grounds is currently legal in four states and Washington D.C. But this number should be much higher given that 33 states have legalized medicinal marijuana. 

There are issues that must be addressed if the remaining 29 states choose to pass legislation in favor of medical marijuana in public K-12 schools. Faculty and staff should be required to attend lectures in order to gain a better understanding of the medical uses of marijuana and how it will be impacting the student. In addition, the school nurse should receive training in how to safely administer the medicine to the student. By normalizing medical marijuana in schools, the stigma surrounding marijuana will slowly disappear.  

Medical marijuana should not be stigmatized as it is not used the way marijuana is recreationally used. Medical marijuana for children is often used in the form of inhalers or tinctures and not smoked. 

Asthmatic students are given no pushback for having to use their inhaler to treat their conditions, so why should students that suffer from epilepsy be any different? Schools should focus on the education and health of their students rather than stigmatizing students for using legal medicine.

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