Florida public schools need to determine how to both administer and store any medical marijuana that students may need on school grounds. Health professionals working at schools may not have training yet in medical marijuana to understand proper dosing of the medicine to students.
Legalized medical marijuana came to Florida at the beginning of the year and how many students may now be taking the medicine is unknown. Counties are hoping for some guidance on how to move forward. Have you considered what to do about administering your child’s medical marijuana while they attend school?
When Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the expanded use of medical marijuana in late June, public school districts found themselves with a new problem to solve: how to store and administer the state-sanctioned drug.
When the Legislature broadened the list of illnesses that medical marijuana can be purchased in Florida to treat, it also instructed districts to develop policies on administering the drug. But, it failed to provide clarity on what those policies should look like. The state Department of Education also has not given any guidance to districts.
Consequently, Leon County Schools finds itself in the same boat as the 66 other Florida districts — it’s not ready to draft a policy on medical marijuana use, nor is it prepared to store and administer the drug on its campuses.
“We will draft policy on it as soon as we get a little more direction on where to go with it,” said Leon School’s Assistant Superintendent Alan Cox.
Cox, who oversees health services at LCS, called the implementation of the law “a bicycle that’s still being built.” The district does not yet know if any of its students have been prescribed the drug. No parent has called so far with inquires.
“This all plays into one of our problems with medical marijuana,” Cox said. “It’s not FDA approved, and the federal government says it’s not legal. Leon County’s Health Department, based on their regulations, can’t disperse it.”
The district contracts with the Florida Department of Health-Leon County to staff its school clinics. The department has six, registered nurses who supervise school clinic employees, called school health assistants.
“That person (the school health assistant) is no more than somebody like us, who gets trained on CPR, diabetes, administration of medication,” Cox said. “That person doesn’t necessarily have specialized training other than those courses we put them through.”
DOH-Leon County did not return calls requesting an interview, but Terri Anderson, LCS’ Health and Wellness Coordinator, said the agency is “very” concerned by the sweeping change.
“They’re violating their laws by dispensing something that’s not FDA approved,” she said. “And that’s their determination, not ours – they are the healthcare professionals.”
Cox and the district’s health services team say their only recourse now is for parents, known as “caregivers” under the law, to administer the drug on campus or outside school hours. That’s how the schools currently handle the administration of high-level prescription drugs.