New bill would allow school nurses to administer medical marijuana

With medical marijuana now legal in 29 states, the need for laws to clarify who can use it — and when — continues to grow. This month, three lawmakers in Colorado are doing just that: introducing a bill that would allow school nurses to administer medical marijuana to students who have a prescription.

The bill, HB18-1286, was introduced to Colorado’s House of Representatives last week by its sponsors, Rep. Dylan Roberts, Sen. Irene Aguilar, and Sen. Vicki Marble. Its stated objective is to allow “a school nurse or the school nurse’s designee, who may or may not be an employee of the school, to also possess and administer medical marijuana to a student at school.” On top of giving nurses this power, the law offers “protection from criminal prosecution” for those tasked with handling it.

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow school nurses to give medical marijuana to students. (Photo: Getty Images)

Currently, medical marijuana is allowed in Colorado “Jack’s Law,” a 2016 bill named for a student who requires it in order to treat “debilitating muscle spasms.” But the law, while beneficial for those who need medical marijuana during school hours, requires that it be administered by a primary caregiver.

For the parents of third grader Quintin Lovato, who relies on medical marijuana to treat his epilepsy, this doesn’t help. As parents to five kids, Lovato’s parents — who both work full-time — haven’t been able to give their son the midday dose that he needs to keep from seizing. This bill, which has been nicknamed “Quintin’s Amendment,” could change that.

“If a nurse was able to give him that third dose at school, that would open up his medication doses and help us out immensely,” Lovato’s mom told local affiliate Fox31. “It may mean the difference between where he’s almost seizure-free right now and actually being seizure-free if he was able to get that third dose.”

The medicine that Lovato relies on to stem his seizures is called Haleigh’s Hope, a cannabis oil named for a 9-year-old in Forsyth, Ga., whose parents helped develop it to stop her near-constant seizures. Like Lovato’s parents, Hope found the oil to have an almost instant effect on her seizures, taking them them from roughly 200 a day to one or two daily.

For Lovato, the hours during which he’s at school without his prescription are crucial. Although his mom cannot be there to give it to him, the option of a nurse being able to do so would be a game-changer — not only for him, but for potentially millions of kids suffering from epilepsy who could benefit nationwide.

Although some parents may find the idea of nurses having access to medical marijuana concerning, the bill specifically outlines safety measures to ensure that it is not improperly used. One of the measures, for example, mandates that the marijuana be “removed from the school grounds” as soon as it’s administered.

Lovato’s mom hopes that those opposed to the bill will look past their fears. “This doesn’t mean your child is going to get cannabis oil at school,” she said. “I just hope that other parents will really think about that when they look at this law and realize that this isn’t just about a drug being given to my child at school. … This is about my kid’s life being saved.”

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