The court verdict issued on the 35th of July has been one of the first of its kind since cannabis legalization.
5-year-old Brooke Adams has been given the legal green light to attend her first year of kindergarten with her medicine. A Californian administrative court ruled on July 25ththat the cannabis medication, essential for the first year kindergartner, could be brought onto school property.
What Brooke Adams Uses the Cannabis Medication For
While many members of the public have heard of the potential benefits of cannabis since cannabis legalization, not many know the specifics of what cannabis can do as a medicine. Additionally, many may not be fully aware of how essential of a medicine it is for some. Young children like Brooke, suffering from Dravet’s Syndrome, a very rare and dangerous form of Epilepsy, rely on the cannabis medicine to stop prolonged and potentially fatal seizures.
Brooke uses CBD oil as a daily supplement to manage the syndrome and her parent’s make sure that she has an emergency dose of THC oil close by at all times, including when she at school. The THC oil is an emergency treatment that is administered to Brooke when she has a seizure that is uncontrollable.
Before attending the Rincon Valley School District School, Brooke had attended a private preschool. The officials at the public school warned her parents that Brooke would not be able to bring the cannabis medication onto the school property.
This is because, under Californian state law, cannabis products (including medications) are not allowed within a certain distance of schools. The district officials were wary that if they allowed the medication on school grounds, hence violating this law, their government funding would be ceased. This is because the public schools require a “drug and alcohol-free campus” distinction in order to receive this federal funding.
In an effort to assist Brooke and her family, the school had offered homeschooling an hour per day.
Unsatisfied, Brooke’s parents wanted their daughter to be able to attend school as a normal child with the advantages of the academic environment and be allowed to bring medicine, essential for their daughter’s life, with her to the school.
Brooke’s parents decided to approach the legal system in order to assist their daughter in obtaining a fair education.
According to the Press-Democrat, Brooke’s parents were challenging the school district as they were not upholding laws that state the need to make the necessary accommodations for students hindered by disabilities.
Brooke was diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome when she was just a baby. Children are diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome when they are less than one years old. Dravet’s Syndrome has a reported 15-20% mortality rate. This is mainly from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), fatal seizures, accidents caused by seizures as well as chronic infections. Currently, there is no known cure for Dravet’s Syndrome although there are drugs that could assist with symptoms. One of these pharmaceutical drugs is Epidolex- the first cannabis-derived pharmaceutical drug to have gained FDA approval.
The symptoms of Dravet’s Syndrome are as follows:
- Delayed development
- Prolonged seizures
- Frequent seizures
- Movement, mobility and balance problems
- Orthopedic issues
- Trouble with sleep
- Nutrition and growth problems
- Chronic Infections
- Autonomic nervous system disruptions
California Cannabis Law and Schools
The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA) was voted in by Californian voters in 1996. The law states that Californian patients have the right to use cannabis for medical treatment. The patient would need to have a physician’s recommendation and are not subject to criminal prosecution.
The third point in the CUA states as follows:
- To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.
Under ‘Other Applicable Laws’, the law states that patients should “avoid” possessing cannabis medicines in school zones. The SB 420 states that no marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is allowed to be smoked within 1000 ft of a school property. Additionally, according to both Proposition 64 as well as federal law, possession of medical cannabis or recreational cannabis is prohibited within 1000 ft of a school.
Court Verdict on the Brooke’s Case
The court ruled that Brooke would be allowed to attend the public school with her medical cannabis under the condition that a nurse appointed by the district accompanied her. The court ruled that Brooke’s case was in the specifications set out by the Compassionate Use Act of California as well as the Medical Marijuana Program Act.
Jana Adams, Brooke’s mother, was quoted in an interview by CNN as saying that the decision is life-changing as well as life-saving. Jana Adams goes on to say that she has full confidence that the potentially fatal seizures can be halted by the emergency THC oil.
In a response to the judge’s court ruling, the school districts representative lawyer said, “We are glad to have clarity and we are glad to serve Brooke. We appreciated that the judge addressed each of our concerns.”