STURGIS — The Meade School Board passed first reading for its new medical cannabis administration plan Monday.
Of concern to some board members and the district’s attorney was the gray area of state law which seems to leave doubt as to whether or not students 18 or older can self-administer medical marijuana at school or school activities.
Medical marijuana became legal in South Dakota under Initiated Measure 26 on July 1.
The South Dakota Board of Education Standards suggested rules on the administration of medical cannabis in schools which was then forwarded for passage by a Legislative interim rules review committee.
Those rules say students may not possess or self-administer medical cannabis on or in school property, or at school-sponsored activities. Only their designated caregiver, who must be 21, can possess or administer medical cannabis to the student or students. This rule also applies to students age 18 or older.
Meade School District attorney Eric Nies said the law could be interpreted to say that if a student is over 18 years old he or she doesn’t need a caregiver to administer the medical marijuana.
“It may come about that it is decided that the intent of this is to say if you are over 18 you can self-administer. If that’s the case, we are going to have to come back and talk about that,” he told the board.
The Medical Cannabis Administration policy, labeled by the district as JHCDE, is a five-page document outlining how the district is expected to permit the administration of cannabis to students on school grounds.
According to the new policy, students with valid registry identification cards for medical cannabis, who intend to use the substance while at school or school-related events, are required to have a designated caregiver to administer the medication.
The policy requires that each qualifying student and their parent, guardian, or designated caregiver, 21 or older, provide three items of documentation. Those include a student’s valid state Department of Health (DOH) approved registry ID card, a caregiver’s card that has been approved by the state showing his or her status as the registered designated caregiver for the qualifying student, and a written, dated, and signed certification from the student’s recommending practitioner that lists the dosage, frequency or time of administration, and length of time between doses of medical cannabis.
The policy states that copies of the required documentation would be made and placed into the student’s educational record.
A student’s designated caregiver is the only person authorized by the policy to provide, administrate, or assist the student with the consumption of medical cannabis while on school property or participating in school activities.
District officials say they do not want the medical cannabis stored on school property or given to students by any school staff. They also do not anticipate that many students will require medical cannabis services this year
School board member Charlie Wheeler asked what the rational was behind not storing the medical marijuana on school property.
Nies said the Associated School Boards of South Dakota has recommended not storing the marijuana on school property for liability reasons.
“In advising you, I would rather you not store it. We’re talking about a substance that is still controlled under federal law. I’d rather it not be the liability of the district to keep track of it and make sure it is not being stolen,” he said.
Wheeler said he couldn’t understand why the district wants to make administering medical marijuana so difficult for so few students who may use it.
“That kid has to suffer because we don’t want to store it and hand it out just like we do everything else?” Wheeler asked.
Meade School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard reiterated that the law as passed says a caregiver has to administer the medical cannabis.
“By statute he just can’t self-administer. He can’t go get the gummy or the brownie or whatever it might be. He has to have somebody administer it,” Kirkegaard said.
The board voted unanimously to pass first reading of the policy and will hold second reading at its Oct. 12 meeting.
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