IL: Parents File Suit To Allow Daughter To Use Medical Marijuana At Suburban Grade School

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren

Parents of an elementary school student who has leukemia are suing a Schaumburg-based school district and the state of Illinois for the right for her to take medical marijuana at school.

Plaintiffs identified only as J.S. and M.S., parents of A.S., filed suit Wednesday claiming that the state’s ban on taking the drug at school is unconstitutional because it denies the right to due process, as well as violating the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The student, who is 11 years old, was treated for her leukemia with chemotherapy, which resulted in the child now suffering from seizure disorders and epilepsy, according to the suit.

The girl received treatments and a “substantial” amount of traditional medications to treat her seizures, but they were not successful, and the child’s treating physicians have certified her as being qualified to receive medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy, the suit stated.

The family asked officials in School District 54 to allow the girl to store and use cannabis on school grounds but were denied because of prohibitions in state law, according to the suit.

The girl has been attending school off and on depending on her condition but likely won’t be able to continue without her medication, in conflict with a state law requiring children to go to school, her attorney, Steve Glink, said.

Under her doctors’ recommendations, the girl wears a medical cannabis patch on her foot, which contains small amounts of THC, the component of marijuana that can make users high.

Occasionally, when the patch is insufficient to control the girl’s seizures, she uses cannabis oil drops with small amounts of THC on her tongue or wrists to regulate her epilepsy, the suit stated.

The student has an individualized education plan (IEP) for intellectual impairments, and attends “mainstream” classes with a teacher’s aide, according to the suit.

The state’s medical cannabis program provides for qualified patients to take medical marijuana with immunity from state prosecution, despite a federal ban on the drug. However, the state law prohibits use at schools and states that school personnel are not required to be caregivers to administer cannabis, and are not immune from prosecution for possession or distribution of the drug.

The suit, filed in federal court in Chicago, asks for a preliminary injunction to allow a school employee to help the student store and consume medical cannabis on school property, on school buses and at school-related events in compliance with her doctor’s orders. Since taking medical marijuana, the girl is calmer and more alert and better able to focus and learn, has fewer seizures and can take less of her traditional, debilitating medicine, a “night and day” difference from before, Glink said.

A hearing has been set for the matter Friday in federal court. Glink said he doesn’t know of any similar case that has been tried previously.

District officials and the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.