Getting the kids ready to return to school is already a big headache. For parents with kids who also need their daily dose of medical cannabis, it can be downright anxiety-inducing. Luckily, here in New Mexico, we have rules in place that will help ensure that student cannabis patients are able to access their medication on campus.
According to the state’s medical cannabis law, public school students enrolled in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program are allowed to have access to their medication while on campus as long as it is administered by a designated faculty member (excluding school nurses) or the student’s primary caregivers.
Individual school boards and charter school governing bodies each have their own policies and procedures for the administration of medical cannabis to students.
The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) has recommended that school boards first address who will be administering medical cannabis to students. That responsibility usually falls on students’ primary caregivers: their legal guardians. But schools can also designate members of the staff to serve as cannabis administrators. These staffers are required to handle all the duties related to possession, storage and administration of cannabis on school grounds.
This access didn’t come easily. Back in 2019, when the state officially adopted the rule, school boards tried to opt out. Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS) both submitted written comments to the state voicing concerns over requiring staff members to administer a federally banned substance on school property. They were also concerned that school nurses would lose their licenses if they administered the drug.
At the time, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who cosponsored the legislation that changed changed the state’s medical cannabis law, told reporters that the districts were being “hyper-technical.” “The statute clearly states that a school district can authorize either school personnel or a caregiver/parent to administer medical cannabis to a student,” he said.
The medical cannabis policy ultimately adopted by APS does not require schools to designate staffers as NMPED suggested. Instead, primary caregivers, parents and legal guardians are responsible for administering cannabis to student patients.
If your child needs to access medical cannabis during school hours, here’s what you need to know about the policy:
Primary caregivers are required to provide proof that the student is authorized by the state as a qualified medical cannabis patient and must provide a copy of the student’s written certification, a copy of their New Mexico medical cannabis card, a signed HIPAA authorization permitting the school to obtain NMDOH data about the student, a written release of liability and a written treatment plan with the signature of the primary caregiver.
The task of getting all this together may seem daunting, but it will all be worth it to improve your student’s quality of life.
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