With a unanimous vote that delighted dozens in the audience, the Volusia County School Board Sept. 25 took another step to make it possible for ill and disabled students to receive medical marijuana on campus during school hours.
“We’re doing the right thing for the right reason,” School Board Member Carl Persis said, as he and his colleagues united behind a draft policy that would authorize parents or caregivers — but not teachers or other employees of the school system — to administer prescription marijuana to students.
The School Board’s decision delighted Kimberly Adams, who said her daughter, Zoe, needs a type of medical marijuana to survive.
“Zoe suffers from Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. She’s got about three to five years to live. They live to be 13, typically,” Adams told The Beacon.
The second-grader relies on doses of CBD oil, a nonpsychoactive marijuana derivative, every three or four hours, her mom said.
The School Board approved advertising the proposed policy, with a few minor changes, for possible adoption. A final public hearing and vote on policy may come in November.
Asked how many students or families may be affected, School Board attorney Mike Dyer declined to estimate.
Kimberly Adams, however, said she believes there are “hundreds” of families using marijuana derivatives for medical purposes.
The move to allow medical marijuana on school grounds is a follow-on of the 2016 Florida constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana, and the Florida Legislature’s passage of a bill last year to implement that amendment.
More than 71 percent of Florida’s voters in the 2016 general election affirmed the statewide ballot proposition, but marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
While the School Board and parents with afflicted children hail the pending change in policy, school-district officials question whether the conflict between federal and state law will mean trouble for a school system that relies on federal funding.
“Whatever challenge comes, we have to meet it,” School Board Chair Linda Cuthbert said. “We know we’re doing the right thing.”
Asked if she ever envisioned herself and other educators having such a discussion — about the very subject of medical marijuana in schools and the conflict between state and federal governments over the drug — Cuthbert replied, “No, not at all.”
But, she added, “The middle name of education is change.”
Persis commended the board for acting counter to “the criticism and pushback” against medical marijuana.
If the School Board adopts the policy, Volusia would become the third county in Florida to authorize medical marijuana to be administered on school property, joining with Broward and Santa Rosa counties. Dyer said other Florida counties may follow suit.