Colorado Springs-area school district could be first in state with new medical marijuana policy
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Still image from video produced by Falcon School District-49 to help others understand the conversation about medical marijuana being dispensed to students on school property.

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A year ago, Sand Creek High in Falcon School District 49 suspended a disabled student for inadvertently bringing medical marijuana to school.

Now, D-49 is considering changing its policy to allow cannabinoid products on school property, if they are part of a treatment plan from a doctor.

D-49 believes it would be the first school district in the state to institute such a policy, which is permissible under a new law that took effect in Colorado for this school year.

"There are medications in our schools right now. Students take things for seizures, asthma, ADHD, and those are done in a very regulated and controlled way. This would be done in the same manner," said D-49 spokesman Matt Meister.

The proposed Compassionate Administration of Therapeutic Cannabinoid Products on District Property would have the shortened title of Jax's Policy, in honor of Jackson "Jax" Stormes. He's the student who was suspended last May because his mom accidentally put yogurt mixed with cannabis pills in his lunchbox.

Jax has Dravet syndrome, a condition that produces constant seizures. Cannabis oil has been the only substance that curtails the seizures, said his mom, Jennie Stormes.

But any form of marijuana, including medical grade, is not allowed on school grounds.

Stormes began campaigning last fall for things to change.

"I asked the school board what happens in an emergency - are you going to arrest me if I bring him cannabis at school? At what point do we have compassion to have the meds available?"

As proposed, the policy would allow parents, primary caregivers or a medical professional hired by the family to administer - on campus, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event - noninhalable products to students who are registered through the state to use medical marijuana.

Permissible products would include cannabis lotions, oils, edibles and tinctures. Smoking marijuana would not be allowed, and neither would recreational marijuana.

Because cannabis remains illegal under federal law, school personnel would not be able to administer the drug, Meister said.

If the policy gains school board approval, D-49 would be in jeopardy of being targeted for violating federal law.

That's why the draft policy contains a "cease-and-desist" provision, Meister said

"If the government requests the district ceases and desists, at the hazard of losing federal funding we would comply immediately," he said.

D-49 receives $7 million each year in federal funding, Meister said.

"We're trying to walk that balance as our society and communities learn more about cannabinoid products and some of the benefits for people who have seizure disorders," he said.

In D-49, 40 students would be impacted by such a policy, he said.

Statewide, about 500 students were thought to benefit from the law Colorado legislators enacted last year, after a mother of a Lakewood student with cerebral palsy led a fight for a law that gives school districts the power to enact policies allowing medical marijuana usage on campus.

Stormes said she thinks D-49's proposed policy is a "step in the right direction."

She doesn't agree with some of its conditions, such as not allowing patches.

"Some kids need that slow release, and they can be in a concealed place," she said. "I understand the fear, but it's not like someone will mug my special-needs child and run down the hall with the patch."

Stormes also questions the requirement that students be registered with the state for medical marijuana.

"Red cards are costly and not required for hemp products," she said. "Are we shoving parents into the program?"

Still, if D-49's policy is approved, she said it would allow her son to be able to have more instruction time because she removes him from school to administer an afternoon dose of cannabis oil.

"I'm glad they're stepping up to the plate," she said. "It's a great start."

Before making a decision, D-49 officials are seeking input from parents and the community through its website and social media. People also can speak at the Thursday school board meeting, and the May 12 meeting, when the proposal will be put to vote.

"We want to facilitate a healthy community discussion about it," Meister said.

A video featuring some of the students and families that would be impacted also is available. For more information, go to D49.org/PolicyPolls.

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Contact Debbie Kelley: 476-1656

Twitter: @inkywoman

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