Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jan 2016
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2016 MaineToday Media, Inc.
Author: Peter McGuire


Waterville and Vassalboro school boards also will vote on the policy 
to allow a caregiver to administer medical marijuana to students at school.

Winslow, Waterville and Vassalboro schools are enacting policies to 
allow students to use medical marijuana in school as districts across 
the state move to comply with a state law passed last year that 
allows the practice.

The Winslow School Board on Monday voted to approve a policy that 
allows a parent or legal guardian considered a primary caregiver 
under Maine's medical marijuana laws to administer marijuana on 
school grounds to a student certified to use the drug.

The Vassalboro School Board has taken a first reading of an identical 
policy and intends to have a second meeting in February, and the 
Waterville School Board will discuss the first reading of the policy 
at its meeting on Wednesday.

The three schools make up Alternative Organizational Structure 92, 
and share a superintendent, administration and transportation, but 
have separate school boards.

The policy enacted by the school boards was developed by the Maine 
School Management Association in response to a law passed by the 
Maine Legislature last year that allows students to take prescribed 
medical marijuana on school grounds as long as it is given to them by 
a primary caregiver.

AOS 92 Superintendent Eric Haley said Thursday that he does not know 
how many students, if any, use medical marijuana in the three 
districts. The issue of dispensing medical marijuana has not been 
brought to the school boards or administration by parents or others, he added.

The new policy also hasn't sparked any public interest, although 
there were a few "raised eyebrows" by policy committee members when 
they learned medical marijuana was legal to use in schools, he said.

According to the policy adopted by Winslow, the adult administering 
must prove that he or she is the primary caregiver for the student, 
the student has written certification to use marijuana from a medical 
provider and the drug must be given to the student during the school 
day instead of before or after school. The marijuana must be in a 
nonsmokeable form.

Medical marijuana cannot be stored on school grounds and cannot be 
administered by anyone other than the designated caregiver, including 
school staff. The policy also states that the drug must be 
administered only in the principal's office.

"The board recognizes that there may be some students in the Winslow 
public schools who rely on the use of medical marijuana to manage a 
medical condition and who may be unable to effectively function at 
school without it," the policy reads.

Maine allows patients to get written certification from a physician 
to use marijuana to help treat a number of health conditions 
including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease and chronic 
pain. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, although 23 states 
have laws permitting medical use of the drug and a handful, including 
Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia 
have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Maine School Management Executive Director Cornelia Brown said that 
the association develops model policies for its members every year in 
reaction to new state laws that affect schools. The policy drafted 
for medical marijuana provides a little more guidance for school 
districts to comply with the law, Brown added.

"I think it spells out for the school department clearly, what their 
responsibilities would be," she said.

So far, she has not fielded any calls from association members about 
the new law and did not know how many might be implementing the model 
policy, Brown said.

Earlier this month, the Auburn School District made national 
headlines when it implemented the same policy, and other school 
districts have approved versions of the model policy since.

While the Winslow policy was enacted smoothly, Haley said school 
boards are going back to existing policies and procedures on student 
conduct and rules for student athletes to see if they also need to be 
changed to recognize student's legal right to use medical marijuana.

"The medical marijuana issue reaches its tentacles out in interesting 
ways," Haley said. "It's not just so simple as putting marijuana as a 
prescribed medicine for students, what other implications does it 
have for other policies?"
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom