Who should administer cannabis in schools?

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Although the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education was expected to give its second reading and approval to what could be a controversial policy, that didn’t happen last Monday evening because of a death in the family of attorney Loren Hatch.

His guidance was thought to be necessary before the board put the policy into action.

Policy 1029 deals with the issue of medical cannabis, which is still illegal federally but slowly being OK’d by individual states, including New Mexico.

According to the policy, qualified students certified by a health-care practitioner and recommended to have medical cannabis can have it administered by “designated school personnel.”

That grouping, though, does not include school nurses; they are worried about losing their licensing in this state vs. U.S. squabble. The schools would prefer that the affected student’s parents or legal guardian administer the medical cannabis, which requires safe storage, and haven’t decided who would serve as the administrator of it if a parent can’t get there, such as for a mid-day dosage for a parent working in Santa Fe or unable to get the time off to take care of his/her child.

Albuquerque Public Schools recently took action on a similar policy, ruling only parents or legal guardians — not anyone else in the schools — may administer the dosage.

Although APS may feel it’s reduced its liability, what happens to a child requiring a mid-day dosage or undergoing a medical episode because, say, a parent driving to the school on I-25 from Santa Fe is in heavy traffic, or perhaps in a jam caused by an accident?

Another caveat: field trips. If an affected student is on a school bus for a field trip, is the parent expected to get permission from his/her boss and the school to accompany his/her student, in the event an afternoon dosage is required. Or if it’s an overnighter for an athletic, band or drama event?

We think common sense should prevail. We believe if medical cannabis alleviates someone’s symptoms from whatever medical condition, it should be carefully administered by school personnel, a parent or a designated substitute for a parent.

Let’s make this clear: A teacher or principal won’t be asked to “fire up a doobie,” light a bong or watch several students share the cannabis. It’s not in that form and any such smoking is already prohibited in the policy, so if a pill or teaspoon of medical cannabis is administered — like a Tylenol or cough syrup — why is there such a fuss?

Although it’s been reported there is only one student among the 17,500 enrolled in RRPS needing medical cannabis, the eventual number, which could vary from year to year, really shouldn’t matter.

Former Rio Rancho City Councilor Roy Slezak wrote a column for us in the past, talking about his experience taking medical marijuana for his back pain after no other treatment helped. He said it changed his life and enabled him to function again.

If kids can benefit from it, too, they should be allowed to use medical cannabis at school. The Observer urges prompt passage of Policy 1029.

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