School authorities say that CJ Harris, a 17-year-old football player who recently joined Warner Robins High School, may not use his cannabis meds. Taking medical cannabis at school has sparked many controversies, and this is the latest one to hit the headlines.
At his previous school, a private school in Macon, it wasn’t a problem. CJ says he hasn't had a single seizure since he started taking medical cannabis four months ago. McClatchy spoke to him and his dad to find out how the Houston County school officials dealt with their request.
School in a panic
Curtis Harris, CJ's dad, says he spoke to officials at the public school about the oil CJ takes for his seizures. They went into a panic and immediately phoned the head nurse of the state. She told Curtis that CJ may not even have cannabis oil on campus, despite the fact that he uses a low THC hemp oil.
First medical cannabis patient at school
In 2015, Rep. Allen Peake introduced a law that established the medical marijuana registry in Macon, limited to patients with very specific conditions. CJ is the first medical cannabis patient at school in Houston County.
Registered families are allowed 20 ounces of low-THC oil to prevent epileptic seizures and to treat other severe conditions including cancer and Parkinson's. Authorities recently added AIDS, autism, and Alzheimer's disease to the list, expanding the program. Currently, 1,700 patients and 354 doctors are registered with the state program.
Taking medical cannabis forbidden
Beth McLaughlin, Houston County school district spokeswoman, made it clear that CJ is not allowed to administer the meds on the school grounds. She says the school is not even allowed to store it for him. According to her, only the person who is registered is allowed to store the oil. She says the school must comply with the Safe and Drug-Free Schools federal law.
Dad drives around the block
So, CJ's dad has to drive to school every day, get him out of class, and drive around the block while CJ takes his cannabis oil.
Neither the Bibb County school board nor the Georgia School Boards Association has had to deal with any students on medical cannabis needing to administer the medicine on school grounds.
Justin Pauly, director of communications for the School Boards Association, says he knew the question would pop up sooner or later. He says that medical cannabis use puts schools in a very difficult position because federal funding might be jeopardized.
It’s the only thing that works
No prescription medicine helped to reduce CJ's seizures, which only started when he was in 7th grade. For a while, they went away, but in 10th grade, he started having seizures once or twice a month. The medication he was on made him irritable, and it didn’t stop his seizures. Cannabis oil, on the other hand, has proved to be very effective.
Free supply from politicos wife
Rep. Peake's wife introduced the Harris family to medical marijuana and still supplies them with free cannabis oil. At first, CJ's family was very against the idea, but researched it, and discovered the moving story of a little girl called Haleigh Cox. She regained motor skills and started talking after she started taking medical cannabis oil.
For now, CJ's dad will have to do the daily drive around the block while they wait for education boards to find the courage to stand up for what is in the best interest of students, says Rep. Peake.
Storm over non-psychoactive meds
Ridiculously, the entire furor is over CBD oil with only a tiny amount of THC. It’s impossible to get high from taking medical cannabis in this form. Meanwhile, nothing prevents students from using prescription opioid painkillers. These drugs have far more potential for harm and addiction.
Once again, federal laws make a safe treatment that works a bone of contention. Perhaps it’s time the Fed caught up with the states whose interests it is meant to represent.