The soft buzz of 10-year-old Anthony Brick’s lunch box zipper is almost as calming as the effects of what’s inside – a pill filled with medical cannabis oil is as good as gold for the Brick family.
“We would spend our lives literally living in and out of these hospitals and the pharmaceuticals would just dope him where he would just sit there with his head down all day,” said Tisha Brick, Anthony’s mom.
He was diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia, PTSD and ADHD. But four years ago, Anthony traded his hospital gown in for a pair of blue jeans and a lunch pail
“He couldn’t do his schoolwork. He really didn’t talk to very many people – medical cannabis has changed it to where he is more sociable,” Tisha Brick said. “He can actually learn a little bit better and he can be around people and function like a normal person.”
And a normal student who was enrolled in Estancia Elementary School.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of new people and I have a lot of friends there, and so we learn a lot about fun things.”
But Anthony’s mom said she had to pull him out of school last fall when the administration told her she would no longer be able to administer his much-needed medication while on campus.
In a letter, the superintendent points to a state law saying that, despite Anthony’s medical card, cannabis is not allowed on school grounds.
He hasn’t sat in a classroom since November; hasn’t had the chance to meet new peers, or learn about those fun things with them.
“It’s very frustrating,” Tisha Brick said. “He’s been out of school for the whole school year. It’s impacted our lives in ways you can’t even imagine.”
Meanwhile, Tisha is unwilling to sacrifice quality of life for the classroom.
“I would rather be at school than home,” he says.
But Brick says she has exhausted all options.
“I want to create change statewide,” she said. “I want all students to be able to school without being discriminated against.”
She’s hoping any other families facing similar battles will join that fight for change. In January, an Illinois family sued a school district and the state for not allowing their child to use medical cannabis in the classroom.
A federal judge ruled in favor of that Midwestern family.
Tisha Brick says the goal is to get state legislators in New Mexico to take a second look at local laws.