PUEBLO — A bi-partisan bill expected to go to the state Senate floor this week aims to expand the abilities of administering cannabis-based medicine to students throughout Colorado schools.
SB21-056 expands and alters an existing law, which requires school districts to allow primary caregivers to possess and administer cannabis-based medicine on campus. Principals also have the power to decide if the product can be stored or administered on campus by staff. However, if passed, the bill would strip that discretion from principals, and would necessitate school boards have a plan "for the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine by school personnel."
It would also protect nurses who administer the cannabis-based medicine to students, and would require it be treated the same way as any other prescription.
The medical marijuana must be in a nonsmokeable form, and a valid doctor's recommendation is necessary. The bill would not require any school staff to administer the cannabis-based medicine against their will. It does not apply to private or nonpublic schools.
If the bill were to pass in the state Senate, it would then move on to the House of Representatives. State Senator Julie Gonzales is one of the sponsors of the bill. She says the intent behind the legislation is to ensure students who rely on cannabis-based medicine to control debilitating disorders are able to access their medication and have a secure place to store it on campus. "Clarify for school districts the manners and practices by which that medical cannabis can be stored on school grounds," said state Senator Gonzales.
The bill passed on a 7-0 vote out of the Senate Education Committee, and unanimously on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Proponents say it could face more of an uphill battle in the House of Representatives.
In Pueblo West, Jamie Kropp says her family would be directly impacted by the passage of this bill. Her 13-year-old son, Kolt Kropp, lives with autism. She moved from Arizona to Colorado in search of a better quality of life.
Kolt has now had his medical marijuana card for seven years. His mom, Jamie, is his caregiver. She makes his medicine in her kitchen, and how much he needs is dependent on the day. "2,000-2,500 mg of whole plant THC tincture oil that Kolt takes throughout the day... We've gone from a nonverbal student, to now we are labeled as a verbal communicator," said Jamie.
As his caregiver, Jamie goes to his school around noon to administer Kolt's cannabis-based medicine. However, if the bill passed, she would be allowed to leave the medicine on campus and school personnel could give it to Kolt. "This is a medical right. Cannabis is medicine, and there's been enough discrimination across the board for our children on the special needs side. It doesn't need to be happening within the school," said Jamie.
News5 reached out to the Colorado Association of School Boards, which has opposed similar legislation in the past, which issued this statement:
"CASB has taken a position of opposition on SB21-056 as the bill does not alleviate or mitigate several issues that have the real potential to jeopardize the operations of a school district. As marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, school districts continue to have a concern around the possibility of insurance not covering the risk. Caregivers are currently able to administer medical marijuana at school to a student. Unfortunately, this bill requires school boards to implement policies allowing for the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine by school personnel without alleviating the real risks associated with doing so."