Medical marijuana would be allowed in Washington state schools under Democratic proposal

January 17, 2019

Students would be allowed to use medical marijuana at schools in Washington state under a proposal reintroduced by state Rep. Brian Blake, Aberdeen Democrat.

Mr. Blake filed House Bill 1060 on Monday, reviving a previously unsuccessful effort to loosen Washington state’s existing marijuana law to account for children who rely on the plant to treat series medical conditions.

If approved, school districts in Washington state would be required to let qualifying patients “consume marijuana for medical purposes on school grounds, aboard a school bus or while attending a school-sponsored event,” according to its language.

″[T]his is not a marijuana issue,” Mr. Blake said Wednesday, The Daily News reported. “This is (about) children having access to education,” he told the regional newspaper.

Thirty-three states and the nation’s capital have legalized medical marijuana in the face of federal prohibition, and at least six of those have enacted policies providing for the administration of medical marijuana to students on school grounds, the Education Commission of the States reported in October 2018, albeit not Washington.

Mr. Blake said that his bill was inspired by a constituent, John Barclay, whose daughter uses oil derived from marijuana to treat epileptic seizures that make it difficult for her to attend school otherwise.

“We’ve had to take her down to half days because the school district won’t let us take marijuana to campus,” Mr. Barclay told Seattle’s KOMO News when Mr. Blake previously proposed the bill in 2017 prior to it ultimately stalling in the state Senate.

Refiled on the first day of state legislature convening, the bill would make it possible for parents like Mr. Barclay to legally bring medical marijuana into Washington state schools and discreetly administer doses to their children in private if passed.

“The school would create a space in the nurse’s office, principal’s office, and I can just see her at lunch and give her a little cookie and she goes back to class,” said Mr. Barclay.

The bill would prohibit smoking medical marijuana, and a clause allows for schools to opt-out of the policy if they fear participation will result in the federal government withholding funding.

“We don’t want to put school dollars at risk. Our effort is to keep children in school with access to educational professionals,” Mr. Blake told The Daily News.

Doctors in Washington state can recommend medical marijuana to patients with at least one condition “severe enough to significantly interfere with the patient’s activities of daily living and ability to function,” and commonly cited diagnoses from cancer and epilsepy, to anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, however, placing the plant in a category reserved for drugs deemed as addictive and lacking medical value by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Several bills pending in Congress would effectively end federal marijuana prohibition if passed on Capitol Hill. President Trump, on his part, previously said he supporters letting states decide whether or not to legalize the plant.

Ten states have implemented laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, beginning with Washington in late 2012.

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