Dad pleads for medical cannabis

Parent Matias Trujillo, front, waits to speak at the Nov. 18 Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education meeting, where he pleaded for his son to be allowed to use medical marijuana at school to prevent seizures and save his life. Photo by Gary Herron.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Still wary about disregarding federal law, the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education approved its “Administration of Medical Marijuana at School Policy” (Policy 1029), OK’ing a “primary caregiver” to be the lone person responsible for storing and administering the federally controlled substance to his/her child on school grounds.

Matias Trujillo, the father of a Rio Rancho High School student — and the only student in RRPS believed to be affected by this policy to date — gave a three-minute passionate plea to the board before its second reading and 5-0 approval of it.

“I’m here as a parent, plain and simple,” Trujillo said. “My son takes medical marijuana on a daily basis to save his life — it’s as simple as that. … If my son doesn’t take this medicine, he has upwards of 80-90 seizures a day. He will die without this medicine.

“My son has taken every narcotic, every opiate, every nasty, horrible, organ-destroying drug you can think of for the past 10 years while he’s been dealing with his epileptic seizures. Nothing’s worked — nothing,” he said.

“About five years ago, we discovered medical marijuana — not really as some choice we wanted to do, but it was a necessity,” Trujillo explained. “So we tried a suppository — medical marijuana. (It was the) first time my son did not have a seizure in 14 hours.

“I’m sorry it works, folks, I really am,” Trujillo said. “I wish I had another medicine to come to you that was legalized, approved by the FDA, the feds, the president — all the way, up and down. I can’t.

“My son takes a drug that is taboo,” he continued. “It’s not even a drug — it’s a medicine that saves his life. My issue that I have today — and I’m sorry it was pushed on to you folks — the (Public Education Department) didn’t do their job. They were instructed by the governor after passing this law Jan. 1 … I went to all the meetings in Santa Fe; I attended them; I was there. I got the run-around from every politician you could think of.

“They had 90 days to come up with something — with two weeks left, they passed it on to you folks and said, ‘Here, do our job.’ I’m completely upset with our government,” Trujillo added. “I just want my son to live. I want my son to have a good day at school. I want him to smile. I want him to have happy days at football games, just like everybody else’s kid. That’s all I’m asking.”

Board members commiserated with Trujillo, but were again reluctant to amend the policy and allow anyone other than Trujillo to administer what seems, in his case, a “miracle drug.”

The state Public Education Department, explained Superintendent Sue Cleveland, “felt it was important (that) the board adopt a policy. …

“They were not willing to say, ‘If you don’t do this, this is going to happen,’ and they agreed that across the state it looks like (the policy) is being addressed many different ways.”

“We know that it’s legal under state law, and under federal law, cannabis remains a controlled substance,” noted attorney Karla Schultz of Walsh & Gallegos.

“This should never have been placed on school board members’ shoulders,” board member Ramon Montaño said. “I’ve seen or talked to parents where this has really benefited their child from having seizures.”

Labeling himself a lame-duck board member, Ryan Parra said, “I really hope that this board and other boards continue to advocate to the state for the importance of just things like this that can help students. … It breaks my heart that we’re put in a position like this where the state is, I feel, using us to get something passed.”

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