AA family in Illinois is fighting for their child’s right to use medical marijuana at a public school, filing suit against the Chicago school district for enforcing a state-wide ban on the consumption or possession of cannabis products on school grounds.
The Fight For Medical Marijuana In Colorado
Named only as A.S. in court documents, the 11-year-old girl at the center of the lawsuit has been prescribed medical marijuana to treat leukemia, but the case mirrors a 2015 legal battle in which Jack Splitt, a young boy with cerebral palsy, took on the State of Colorado over its own ban on medically-prescribed cannabis products at school.
Splitt died in 2016 at the age of 15, but not before convincing Colorado lawmakers to pass “Jack’s Law,” new legislation that empowers public school districts to allow a student’s parents or school employees to possess and administer medical marijuana on school grounds.
Young Boy Takes On State Congress
Jack Splitt battled the neurological impairments of cerebral palsy, along with the extreme pain that often accompanies the disorder, with courage, his mother says.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Splitt’s mother, Stacey Linn, focused on her son’s work fighting another sort of challenge, the resistance of intransigent state lawmakers unable, or unwilling, to believe that marijuana could be safely used for medical purposes. “He fought hard for children everywhere, there is no doubt,” Linn said, “but we’ll also remember his smile.”
Cannabis Gains Steam As Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Where it’s available, medical marijuana is becoming a more common treatment for the leg, hip and back pain often experienced by people with cerebral palsy. Early medical research has also pointed to cannabis as providing relief for partial seizures, common in patients with spastic forms of the disorder. Jack Splitt relied on the drug, administered through a skin patch, to help him deal with pain.
His mother says that Jack’s daily medical marijuana treatments provided him relief so he could spend more quality time with family and friends. Then, in February 2015, an employee at Jack’s school ripped the patch off his arm. So Jack went to Colorado’s congress to change things.
Jack’s Law Empowers Special Needs Students, Parents
“Anyone who knew him knew that we has charming, he was engaging,” says Democratic State Representative Jonathan Singer. Splitt was unable to speak, but his passionately-written testimony inspired Singer to sponsor the bill that would ultimately become Jack’s Law. “He changed more minds on the issue of medical marijuana than I think I ever did,” Singer told reporters, “and he finally put a human face to what most people perceive as a Cheech-and-Chong subject.”
Families Win Right To Use Medical Marijuana At School
Jack and his mother lobbied tirelessly, flipping conservative representatives into medical marijuana advocates. And finally, Jack’s Law was signed by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper in June 2016, allowing public school districts to create their own policies around the use of medical marijuana on school grounds.
In school districts without a policy, parents (and other primary caregivers) have absolute discretion to administer cannabis-derived products to their children wherever they see fit, including at school.
School District Creates First Cannabis Policy
In May 2017, Colorado’s School District 49, serving around 19,000 children in Colorado Springs and rural El Paso County, became the first in the state to approve a cannabis policy. The District’s Policy is known as “Jaxs’ policy” after an 11th-grade student, Jackson “Jaxs” Stormes, who was suspended in 2015 for bringing cannabis oil to school. Stormes uses medical marijuana to treat his seizures.
Jack Splitt’s battle, however, didn’t end with the passage of the law that bore his name. He died in August 2016. “A crowd of hundreds,” the Denver Post writes, showed up for the memorial service. Some of the state’s leading attorneys were joined by lawmakers, friends and family to remember the boy who had fought, and won, for the rights of special needs students to receive treatment. Jack’s real message was simpler than that, writes reporter John Ingold – “that all children should be given the chance to be a part of their community.”