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Local

DeKalb County school districts talk medical marijuana policies

Genoa-Kingston, Sycamore school district boards of education may vote this week

Jennifer Slusinski displays a watermelon edible product Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, at Rise Joliet during the first day that marijuana and marijuana-based products could legally be sold in Illinois. Genoa-Kingston School District 424 and Sycamore School District 427, if policies are approved at their respective board of education meetings Tuesday night, would allow parents to administer to their students, who are qualified patients, marijuana by ingestion.
Jennifer Slusinski displays a watermelon edible product Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, at Rise Joliet during the first day that marijuana and marijuana-based products could legally be sold in Illinois. Genoa-Kingston School District 424 and Sycamore School District 427, if policies are approved at their respective board of education meetings Tuesday night, would allow parents to administer to their students, who are qualified patients, marijuana by ingestion.

Genoa-Kingston School District Superintendent Brent O’Daniell said he has a “gut feeling” the district’s school board will vote to allow parents to administer their children medical marijuana at school when they meet Tuesday evening.

The potential approval is based on the drug being taken on a scheduled basis, not when the student feels they need it. O’Daniell said the medicinal drug would be given as a “maintenance medication,” where it’s designed for daily ingestion. He compared it to medication he’s prescribed.

“I take medication for blood pressure,” he said.
“I have to take that every single day. It’s considered maintenance [in that it’s taken] regularly, daily, twice or three times a day to help deal with a specific health situation.”

When the District 424 School Board won’t be alone when it meets to discuss whether to approve the administration of medical marijuana on campus, which is allowed under state law.

The district also plans on having a second reading of a potential district policy that, if approved, would allow students who have a doctor’s prescription to ingest a medical marijuana-infused product.

District 427’s potential policy, based on the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, would allow a parent or guardian who is a designated caregiver of a minor student to administer medical marijuana to their child.

“A designated caregiver must be at least 21 years old and is allowed to administer a medical cannabis-infused product to a child who is a student on the premises of his or her school or on his or her school bus,” the policy states. The school board will be discussing the policy change at its meeting Tuesday night.

Sycamore School District Superintendent Kathy Countryman said that although the district already was following the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, the new policy is an adjustment.

“We just redefined [the policy] to make sure we were following what the new processes were,” she said. “We just needed to clarify a few things.”

O’Daniell outlined a couple of the restrictions to the policy for Genoa-Kingston.

“The school itself is not going to administer medical marijuana to students [who have a prescription,]” he said. “If a student needs medical marijuana during the school day, we need to make arrangements with the parent to come to the school and administer it.”

O’Daniell said for the drug to be given to students on school property it would have to be ingested and that it cannot be smoked or inhaled. O’Daniell explained the
reasons for the restriction, which include the lingering odor and the chance for
secondhand smoke.

“As a parent, if my kid got a contact high, I wouldn’t be too happy about it,” he said.

O’Daniell said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was one of the possible reasons a student might be prescribed medical marijuana. He said that other, more severe disorders could allow students to be administered the drug.

“There are youngsters coming in with unique behaviors,” he said. “Parents are struggling to find a solution.”

In order to administer the drug both the student and caregiver have to have valid registry identification cards issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health; copies of the registry identification cards must be provided to the school district; the student’s parent or guardian completed, signed and submitted a School Medication Authorization Form – Medical Cannabis; and after administering the product, the designated caregiver takes the drug off-campus.

The policy also would allow a “properly trained school nurse or administrator,” allowed to administer the product to the student on the premises of the child’s school as long as the parent or guardian of a student who is a qualifying patient completes, signs and submits the authorization form.

The parent or guardian must also submit copies of the registry ID cards of both the student as a patient and the parent-guardian as a designated caregiver to the school nurse.

DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said his district is waiting on legal direction from school district attorneys.

“When we get an opinion from them or direction from them, we will follow their legal advice and the law,” Craven said.

He said the uncertainty is whether the school’s nurses can administer the drug since it is prohibited under federal law. He said where the drug can be kept and stored is another question.

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