It’s a victory for five-year-old Brooke Adams and her family when the court allowed her to take medical cannabis at her public kindergarten.
Brooke suffers from a severe and hard-to-treat form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, which causes frequent seizures. She is given daily doses of cannabidiol (CBD) tincture and cannabis oil with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
CBD and THC are active chemical compounds found in cannabis. However, THC is psychoactive and therefore creates a high among users, while CBD is not. Both of these compounds are effective in reducing seizures.
Brooke’s mother, Jana, said that the girl started experiencing traumatic seizures when she was only 3.5 months old. The longest seizure lasted for three hours and by her first birthday, her daughter was already on a list of prescribed medications.
Moreover, when Brooke was just over a year old, she was issued a medical cannabis card. Because of the medical cannabis treatment, the girl now has fewer seizures.
While cannabis is fully legal in California (both medical and recreational), the drug is not allowed within a thousand feet of public schools. Moreover, unlike other states such as New Jersey, Maine, and Colorado, the state of California does not currently have laws in place allowing sick children to use cannabis at school even for specific medical reasons.
Because of this particular 1,000-foot prohibition under the state’s cannabis law (Proposition 64), the Rincon Valley Union School District, Brooke’s local school district, would not allow her to bring her medication on campus.
This led the Adams family to bring the matter before the California Office of Administrative Hearings – Special Education Division.
The family’s lawyer contended that the district’s refusal to allow the girl to bring her medicine to school is also a violation of a law that mandates schools to make accommodations for disabled students.
Pursuant to federal and state laws, the district is required to assist a student with a disability in taking medication if such medication is needed. This is to make sure that the student can still attend school.
The Office of Administrative Hearings heard the case last month and is set to issue a ruling by mid-November.
However, pending a final order, Judge Charles Marson granted the girl permission to go to kindergarten and take her medication to class with her. The temporary ruling also orders the district to provide a nurse who will administer the medication to Brooke whenever she needs it.
Cathy Myhers, Rincon Valley Union School District’s assistant superintendent for student services, earlier said that if they violate federal law prohibiting cannabis in public schools, their district could lose its federal funding.
In January, Myhers said that if they cannot provide Brooke the THC-based rescue medication, they cannot serve her on a public campus. Their hands are tied, she added.
Myhers clarified, though, that Rincon Valley would like to see these restrictions changed so students with disabilities requiring medical cannabis during the school day can attend public school campuses the way other students are able to do.