Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Chalk Talks - Marijuana and Public Schools - the Talk Has Changed

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Chalk Talks - Marijuana and Public Schools - the Talk Has Changed

Article excerpt


Medical marijuana usage in public schools has created a haze for state and federal lawmakers, students, school districts, and parents/ guardians. Medical marijuana benefits the lives of many people who suffer from life threatening illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, autism, and glaucoma. Usually, it is prescribed in two forms: the plant itself or cannabis oil, which the patient can ingest through food and drink. While medical marijuana has been legal in some states for nearly two decades, it is still illegal under federal law. Only now are school districts and lawmakers across the United States starting to tackle the issues regarding students' use of medical marijuana.

The issue arises when students are prescribed medical marijuana. After years of attempting to keep marijuana out of schools, educators across the country now have to address the issue of administering prescription medical marijuana to students. When public school nurses administer medicinal marijuana to students, the schools claim that students and nurses are violating federal law, even though marijuana use is legal for medicinal purposes under state law.

Nationwide, many families have been negatively affected by schools that refuse to let their staff administer prescribed marijuana to students. Some schools require students to go home in the middle of the school day to take their much needed medication; meaning, these students often complete only a half-day at school.1 When a student is denied their prescribed medication, or they have to leave in the middle of the school day to take their medication, their daily routine is disrupted. This is problematic because schools have the capability to administer the medical marijuana through their fully-trained nursing staff.2

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that certain fundamental rights cannot be removed without Due Process of law.3 One of those fundamental rights is the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.4 The public schools that deny medicinal marijuana use, or require students to leave school to take their prescribed dose, are infringing on the rights of parents to wholly direct the health, welfare, and education of their children.

The schools are infringing parents' rights by not allowing children access to medication, or by making it unduly burdensome on parents and children in having access to the prescribed medication. Therefore, schools stand in the way of parents' ability to rightfully care for the best interests of their children within the public school system.

The following sections will address a particular student, Genny, and the many legal problems her family faced because of medical marijuana usage in state schools. The following sections explain the parents' constitutional rights to make health decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and the various reasons medical marijuana has become so popular and successful in combatting chronic illnesses similar to Genny's. Additionally, the states' fears regarding medical marijuana usage in schools will be examined. Finally, this note gives recommendations for how the schools should implement the legal administration of medical marijuana to the prescribed students on school grounds.


An epileptic seizure is extremely scary and painful. They come out of nowhere and lead to stiff muscles, limbs that jerk uncontrollably, face twitching, severe confusion, and writhing pain all over one's body. Many who experience these epileptic seizures hit and slap themselves in the head and all over their bodies in an attempt to rid themselves of the indescribable pain that took control over every muscle in their body.

This is the life of 16-year-old Genny Barbour when she experiences an epileptic and an autistic seizure. These seizures come out of nowhere and the severity varies from person to person. …

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