New Illinois Medical Marijuana Law Allows Children To Get Cannabis Treatment At School

A little girl facing daily seizures forced the state to change medical cannabis law so she can be treated at school.

Medical marijuana may soon be available in Illinois schools.
Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

A little girl facing daily seizures forced the state to change medical cannabis law so she can be treated at school.

As medical marijuana is gaining acceptance from the healthcare community, patients, and lawmakers, many states across the nation are enacting legislation allowing for pot treatments for specific ailments. Some states even allow the controversial drug be used to treat certain health conditions that affect children.

While many pediatricians, as well as parents, support the idea of medical marijuana for kids, some school districts struggle with the thought of allowing the drug, currently illegal under federal law, on school grounds. Per a High Times report, one such school in Illinois was sued over the issue.

Living with leukemia most of her life, Ashley Surin receives regular treatments of medical marijuana through a CBD oil transdermal patch. Without cannabis, the sixth-grader is subjected to almost daily seizures from the neurological damage caused by methotrexate, a drug used alongside chemotherapy to treat cancer. In addition to the seizures essentially stopping shortly after starting the medical pot therapy, three prescription drugs Ashley was taking for almost eight years were no longer needed.

While medical marijuana is legal in Illinois where 11-year-old Ashley lives, her school did not allow the drug to be used while she was there. The Hanover Park school district prohibited Ashley from attending school while wearing the patch, even though the CBD oil in the treatment complied with state law.

Upset over the district’s decision, Ashley’s parent took the issue to court, accusing officials of violating both the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. After nearly a year of court battles, the school rescinded their decision, and Ashley returned to school.

However, there was still one hurdle to overcome. Even though medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, it is illegal to possess in schools.

Fortunately, Illinois lawmakers became aware of Ashley’s fight and worked quickly to change the law to prevent more child and parents from having to decide between medical marijuana treatment and an education.

Bill HB4870, also known as Ashley’s Law, was recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly. The approved legislation obligates a school district to allow a parent or guardian to administer medical marijuana to children on school campuses.

“This will open the door potentially for kids like Ashley and other kids in Illinois to have medical marijuana on school grounds that can be administered in a situation where it’ll regulate these types of illnesses,” said Ashley’s father Jim, per the report from High Times.

The law requires parents and children to be registered with the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. In addition, children must only use a non-smokable form of medical weed, such as CBD oil, transdermal patches, or edibles.

The approved medical marijuana bill will now go to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for a final decision and signature. Should the bill become law, it will likely influence the medical cannabis laws of other states in regards to treatments for children.