Brooke Adams, five, has suffered from seizures her whole life. On Monday, she attended her first day of kindergarten — after a judge issued a ruling that she could be given medical cannabis while at public school.
Brooke has Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy that causes frequent seizures, according to NBC. She’s treated with daily doses of CBD tincture and a “rescue drug made of cannabis oil that’s high in THC,” according to KQED. A rescue drug can help stop seizures once they start.
Her mother, Jana Adams, told the Press-Democrat that Brooke has to have the THC oil with her at all times.
Brooke’s local school district, the Rincon Valley Union School District, would not let her bring her medicine on campus because possession of marijuana, regardless if it’s medical or recreational, is prohibited within 1,000 feet of public schools, according to both California’s Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state, and federal law, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
But the district’s stance means they’re not following laws that mandate accommodations for disabled students, attorneys for Brooke’s family said, according to the Press-Democrat.
The California Office of Administrative Hearings’ Special Education Division heard the case on July 25 and should issue a ruling by mid-November, according to the Press-Democrat.
The judge, Charles Marson, granted an order allowing Brooke to go to kindergarten and take her medication to class until the final ruling is issued, the Press-Democrat reported. The order also says the district will provide a nurse to give the medication to Brooke if she needs it.
Jana Adams told KQED that her daughter started having traumatic seizures at age 3½ months. The longest seizure lasted three hours, she told the radio station, and Brooke was on a list of prescribed medications by her first birthday.
Brooke was issued a medical marijuana card when she was just over a year old, NBC reported, and her mother says that she now has fewer seizures, thanks to her medication.
Cathy Myhers, the assistant superintendent for student services at the Rincon Valley Union School District, told KQED that if the district violates the federal prohibition on having marijuana in public schools, they could lose federal funding.
“If we can’t provide her that rescue medication, we can’t serve her on a public campus,” Myhers told KQED in January, adding that the district feels like “our hands are tied.”
“Federal and state law require the district to assist a student with a disability with taking medication if such medication is necessary so that the student can attend school,” Myhers told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Rincon Valley would like to see the restrictions changed so that students with disabilities who require medical marijuana to be administered during the school day per a physician’s [recommendation] can attend appropriate public school campuses, just as any other student would be able to do,” Myhers said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“If we’re really looking for what’s in the best interest of the child, we’re not asking the school to do anything evasive. It’s essentially doing something that a parent feels comfortable doing at home,” Dr. Joseph Sullivan, director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
California doesn’t currently have legislation in place that allows children to use medical marijuana at school, but other states, including Colorado, Maine and New Jersey, allow students to use cannabis in school for specific medical reasons.