Mark Slaugh, membership director of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, Tuesday wrote to Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs to urge legislative action on behalf of a teenage medical marijuana patient being denied access to his medicine by Harrison School District 2.
“It is a tragedy that the district feels it needs to follow the law so closely, but even so, there is nothing in the law about internal possession,” he said.
He said the family reached out to his organization seeking help. “We’re just trying to assist so that he has a voice.”
The teenager in question was diagnosed a little more than a year ago with a very rare condition that causes seizures, which can last for days. He missed about a year of school and was in and out of hospitals, where he was administered morphine and other narcotics to control the seizures. Those drugs didn’t work very well and involved a host of side effects. Finally, he tried medical marijuana in lozenge form, and it turned out to work better than any of the other drugs. Shortly after starting on medical marijuana, he was ready to go back to school and resume a normal life. His school district has made that more than a little difficult. Links to past articles are below.
Last night, this story made for a few minutes of good television in the boy’s hometown Colorado Springs, where district officials said the story is not a story.
“All my friends are getting their education and growing up to be something, and I felt like I wasn’t going to amount to anything,” the student told the Fox 21 reporter.
Slaugh said the problem is two-fold. First, the district should take a more reasonable approach to the situation and, second, the legislature should rewrite medical marijuana laws so that this situation doesn’t come up in the first place.
“The district should take a logical approach, a human approach so that this kid does not have to suffer through convulsions at school. He shouldn’t have had to suffer by changing schools and losing all of his friends. He shouldn’t have to suffer by having to walk home to get his medicine, and he shouldn’t have to suffer by not being able to return to school once he has had his medicine,” Slaugh said.
At the same time, he said the state legislature should rewrite medical marijuana laws so that a student who needs the medicine can more easily attend school.
“The district needs to ask itself, ‘what are we doing to cause a child to suffer? Why are we doing that?”
“People are afraid to tackle the issue of teenagers and medical marijuana use,” he told the Colorado Independent this afternoon.
Neither Barker nor Morse could be reached today.
Excerpts from his letter are below:
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 11:21:29
Senator Morse and Representative Barker,
My name is Mark Slaugh and I’m writing on behalf of a Colorado Springs medical cannabis patient who suffers from a rare condition known as Myloclonus Diaphragmatic Flutter. This condition is characterized by severe seizures of the neck and diaphragm muscles that can last for hours or days. This patient is only 16 years old and is being denied his right to public education because of his medication. His parents have also contacted you regarding the injustice of school district policy in disallowing Bill Smith (patient’s pseudo name) to return to school after using his constitutionally guaranteed medicine at home. Please read each article in full to understand his story and dilemma. I’d also pay close attention to the comments below each piece to see how the public is viewing this injustice.
I’d ask you understand the suffering and shortsightedness of this policy and stance the school has taken. “Internal Possession” is not an excuse for zero tolerance policies to beget zero intelligence and cause undue suffering.
I work with the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council. The CSMCC is a non-profit industry organization dedicated to the advancement of medical cannabis in Colorado for patients, citizens, and business owners.
The school’s refusal to allow a piece of candy to be carried or consumed in the event of Bill’s spasm attacks rests in the District’s interpretation of the law. Although the Colorado Constitution guarantees this right for chronic muscle spasm patients to use MMJ, the school quotes the following two laws for their refusal:
No prescription or nonprescription medication shall be administered at school by the school nurse or other school designee without the following requirements being met:
1. Medication shall be in the original properly-labeled container.
2. The school shall have received written permission from the doctor or dentist to administer the medication.
3. The school shall have received written permission from the parent/guardian to administer the medication.
All medication shall be safeguarded at school to avoid any risk that it may be improperly ingested by anyone.
(b) A patient or primary caregiver shall not:
(IV) Possess medical marijuana or otherwise engage in the use of medical marijuana in or on the grounds of a school
Clearly, the school policy shouldn’t prevent the administration of medicine as long as the 3 conditions are met. However, there is still the fundamental problem that Nurses cannot administer MMJ to ANY PATIENT unless they are, themselves, patients or caregivers due to its federally illegal status. This should be changed in legislation so Doctors and Nurses can administer and purchase MMJ for their patients in schools, assisted living, and hospice centers. As these are the areas with patients most in need of medical cannabis.
The Colorado Revised Statutes, on the other hand, clearly say Bill can’t medicate himself on campus. Even if the wording is ambiguous, this law clearly contradicts the constitutional right for Bill to use his medicine. Voters never intended kids to be out of school for a year because opiates are too potent, nor should their lawmakers expect a right to education denied because of the type medicine used by a patient.
In Bill’s case, he would not be in school without his medical marijuana lozenge. Period. The implications of a case like his are precedent setting to say the least if he were allowed to use medical marijuana on school grounds.
The question then becomes, why is the law obstructing patient choice and constitutional rights?
There is a lawsuit in effect already against provisions of House Bill 1284 on behalf of patients. But Bill’s family is only asking he be allowed to return to school after using MMJ to stop his convulsions so he doesn’t get further behind in his education. Bill has already missed a year of school because of drugs with strong side effects and if MMJ allows him to study, there should be no reason his education is further denied. “Internal Possession” is a poor excuse from School District Attorneys. Please feel free to call or email me and I thank you for listening to the concerns we have on behalf of Bill and his Dad.
Thank you, we look forward to your response.