California Gov. rejects bill allowing medical cannabis at school

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The bill would have allowed parents to bring their children medical cannabis at school. On Friday (Sep. 28), California Governor Jerry Brown blocked the passage of a bill that would have allowed parents to bring their children medical cannabis at school. 

The aim of this legislation, called Jojo’s Act, was to give children with severe health conditions, like rare forms of epilepsy, better access to their medication. The measure was named after a high school student in San Francisco who is afflicted with the rare seizure disorder, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It was proposed by State Senator Jerry Hill of Senate District 13.

“It is vital that we lift the barriers for students with serious medical conditions who rely on medical cannabis to attend school,” said Senator Hill in a press release the day following Brown’s veto. Hill made it clear that he will continue to push for measures that afford children and teenagers easier access to their medications so that their school day can go uninterrupted.

Brown said the decision to block the legislation was based on concerns about it being “overly broad,” exposing youth to cannabis and advancing public policy faster than the science it’s based on.

“This bill is overly broad as it applies to all students instead of limited cases where a doctor recommends medical marijuana for a student in order to prevent or reduce the effects of a seizure, ” wrote Brown in his veto letter, which went on to express concerns about cannabis being used by young people “for all ailments.”

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“This bill goes too far—further than some research has—to allow the use of medical marijuana for youth. I think we should pause before going much further down this path,” concluded Brown.

An increasing body of research has shown that certain cannabis compounds can help treat certain severe seizure conditions. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the country’s first cannabis-based medication, Epidiolex, which is designed to treat rare childhood seizure disorders like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

This medication is made primarily with cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, meaning that children who take Epidiolex won’t feel the “high” associated with cannabis’ psychoactive compound, THC.

Measures—like the one recently rejected by Brown’s veto—have already passed in some states like Illinois, to ensure that children who qualify for the state’s medical cannabis program can use their cannabis-based medications while at school. A similar law was passed in Colorado in 2016. Due to Brown’s veto, California will not be included in the list of states that allow this type of policy. 

On November 6, a gubernatorial election will take place in California to decide the next governor of the state. Hill is planning on reintroducing the legislation on December 3, after the next governor takes office. 

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