District may create policy to govern use of medical marijuana in schools | SteamboatToday.com

District may create policy to govern use of medical marijuana in schools

Colorado lawmakers have voted in favor of a bill that would allow students to use non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana on school grounds, school buses and at school events, provided that a parent administers the prescribed drug.

— Steamboat Springs Board of Education members are considering whether to create a policy to govern the use of medical marijuana in schools following passage of a Colorado bill.

House Bill 1373, which was awaiting the signature of Gov. John Hickenlooper as of Tuesday, requires districts to allow students with medical marijuana prescriptions to use non-smokeable forms of marijuana on school grounds, provided it is administered by a caregiver and then removed from campus.

While the bill states districts must allow the use of medical marijuana, a district can govern the details of how, where and when the use occurs through a board policy.

Board members Monday received input from local law enforcement, a marijuana dispensary owner and a pediatrician about the bill and what to include in a potential policy.

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins recommended the board consider prohibiting marijuana which contains THC, the plant's psychoactive component.

"I think we'd all agree that the last thing we want is a bunch of kids running around school high," Wiggins said.

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He said marijuana with cannabidiol, known as CBD, has been shown to have health benefits for some medical users.

"I think these kids with certain medical conditions have experienced some high success," Wiggins said.

Wiggins also strongly suggested the district not allow staff members to act as caregivers and administer the drug.

District Superintendent Brad Meeks said that, in early talks with his administrative team about drafting a policy, they had agreed staff would not administer the drug.

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen told the board the bill was short and to the point and that the board should create an instructive, in-depth policy to control the use of medical marijuana in schools.

Both law enforcement leaders said they were not in a position to bring legal action against the district for following the bill, even though, federally, marijuana remains illegal.

"We have no authority to enforce federal law," Wiggins said.

Rocky Mountain Remedies owner Kevin Fisher suggested the board not distinguish between different types of marijuana that might include THC or CBD when crafting a policy.

He said that if a parent is willing to jump through the various hoops to get medical marijuana to a child, the board shouldn't concern itself with which type of marijuana is administered, the dose or where it was purchased.

Steamboat pediatrician Dr. Steven Ross offered little help with crafting a policy, but stressed that numerous, highly respected hospitals and universities refuse to use medical marijuana when treating children due to the possible harm.

Meeks told Ross that, at this point, it really wasn't up to the district to allow or not allow students to use medical marijuana.

"It really isn't up to us to review the medical validity of this," Meeks said. "This is a procedural issue, and we have to decide how, when and where we would allow this to happen."

Board president Margie Huron said she expects the discussion about creating a policy to continue at a future meeting.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow