Following the signing of a chunk of legislation by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, October 9, schools in California will now be able to decide whether or not parents can administer students with medical cannabis on school grounds.
A similar law was dismissed in 2018 by Democrat Jerry Brown – Newsom’s predecessor.
The legislation gives parents the opportunity to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to on-campus medical cannabis for their children. It overthrows previous prohibitionist approaches to on-site cannabis consumption; an earlier law restricted the use of medical cannabis consumption to within 1,000 feet of K-12 campuses.
January 1, 2020 is the date on which the law is set to take effect. However, school districts will have the final say on whether they will allow it.
California’s cannabis on-campus bill: Who is Jojo?
The introduction of California’s cannabis on-campus bill was inspired by a 19-year-old boy named Jojo.
Everyday at noon, Jojo’s mother Karina Garcia would drive to her son’s school to administer him with a dose of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oil. Without it, Jojo faced the risk of experiencing life-threatening epileptic seizures.
While Jojo’s mother was able to administer him with his medicine, she was not allowed to do it on-campus. This meant that she had to take him out of school just to drop the oil into his mouth, before he re-attended his classes.
Despite the fact that Jojo was in possession of a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis oil, his mother was obligated to remove him from school grounds in order to treat him. Administering her son with oil on campus meant that Garcia would have been violating federal law.
“To go into the classroom every day and have to grab your child, walk down the block, give them a dose and return them, it’s so disruptive,” said 38-year-old Garcia.
She says that prescription drugs left her son dazed and zombie-like. Since the 19-year-old is dependent on a wheelchair, he is unable to administer the oil without assistance.
“Jojo’s Act” is the name of California’s on-campus cannabis bill
Inspired by the epileptic teenager who relies on the medicine, State Senator Jerry Hill – author of California’s on-campus cannabis bill – named it “Jojo’s Act”. Jojo, who is based in the Southernmost part of San Francisco, struggled to obtain treatment for epileptic seizures when on school grounds.
Although California legalized medical cannabis in the 1990s, state restrictions have meant that using the plant – in whatever form – on-campus is strictly forbidden.
Some other cannabis-friendly U.S. states that have restricted the use of medical cannabis on school grounds include Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington.
“Jojo’s Act would lift barriers for students with severe medical disabilities – for whom medicinal cannabis is the only medication that works – so they can take their dose at school and then get on with their studies, without being removed from campus and without disrupting their educational experience or that of their classmates,” Hill explained in an official statement once the bill had been approved in the state Legislature.
In California, students who require medical cannabis must have a legitimate recommendation from a licensed doctor or healthcare practitioner. Additionally, the medicine should be in non-smokeable form, such as an oil-based tincture or capsule.
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