RI: Family Fights To Change Law, Says Medical Cannabis Should Be Administered In School

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The parents of an 11-year-old Coventry girl are hoping to change Rhode Island law when it comes to medical cannabis on school grounds.

Jadyn Minda had her first seizure when she was 18 months old. Still, her mom tells us Jadyn had a normal childhood until she turned 4 years old. She said that’s when things became much worse.

“She was doing great. She was singing, she was in ballet,” Liz Minda, Jadyn’s mother, said.

Over the years, Liz has seen Jadyn suffer thousands of seizures. Her and her husband tried several different medications for their daughter. They even took her to several hospitals for treatment, but nothing cured her.

“It’s heart wrenching, disappointing. I feel like I’m failing her,” Liz said. “What am I doing wrong? What can I do to help my child?”

As a nurse, Liz eventually decided when Jadyn was 9 years old that she needed to change course. She said when Jadyn took pharmaceuticals, she was “basically a drooling rag doll.”

Liz and her husband would dress her, feed her and tie her shoes for her.

But now, Jadyn is starting to come back to the Minda family. For the past 22 months, Liz has been giving her daughter cannabis oil, after a doctor recommended it.

The oil does not get Jadyn “high” because there’s no Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in it. It’s the chemical compound Cannabidiol, or CBD, that regulates Jadyn’s seizures.

Just last month, a Food and Drug Administration Panel unanimously recommended approval of CBD’s for treatment of epilepsy.

“We know that Jadyn has done better. She goes to school. Cannabis has afforded her the opportunity to go to school and function,” Liz said.

Since Jadyn started taking the oil, Liz said she has not had a seizure unless she has been sick. When she does have them, they last less than a minute.

But right now, Jadyn is not allowed to have her cannabis medication at school. The district said federal law prohibits the school nurse from giving her the medicine.

Superintendent of Coventry Public Schools Craig Levis sent Eyewitness News a statement in regards to Jadyn’s treatment:

“During the past year, I have worked with Liz Minda in regards to her daughter and the treatment of her daughter’s seizure disorder. Liz is an incredible advocate for her daughter. The use of medical cannabis oil has been identified as an effective treatment for the severe seizures that her daughter has experienced. This treatment has allowed her daughter to have a full life as a fifth grade student in her elementary school. Because Coventry Public Schools accepts federal funds and is a drug free workplace, Coventry Public Schools cannot house or allow employees (school nurse/teachers) to administer medical cannabis oil. This is a federal issue and not a state issue. Only with a change in the federal laws would we be able to assist Liz’s daughter with her treatment.”

Right now, only the Mindas can give Jadyn the cannabis oil, as long as it is done off of school grounds.

“Right now, my husband and I have to be 15 minutes away from the school at all times,” Liz said.

The Mindas are working with  State Representative Scott Slater to change that.

“I have two daughters, 8 and 5 years old, and I know how important it is that when they go to school, I know they are safe,” Slater said.

Slater has introduced a bill that would allow cannabis, in an oil or edible form, to be administered on school grounds in Rhode Island.

“It would allow school nurses to administer cannabis oil to a child who is maybe on the verge of a seizure.” Slater said. “It would prevent that, and maybe allow them to continue with their day.”

But, there is opposition. The National Education Association of Rhode Island sent Eyewitness News a statement about Slater’s proposal:

“While we understand and appreciate Representative Slater’s intent, we are not able to support this legislation. Our union represents a number of school nurse teachers, and as licensed caregivers they are prohibited from administering any drug that does not have FDA approval. Compelling a school nurse teacher to administer this medication could jeopardize their nursing license and so we must oppose the bill in its current form. Moving forward, we are eager to be part of any discussion that may find common ground.”

Slater said he understands their concern because it’s not FDA approved, and he is not looking to put any nurses in a bad position.

“But, my thing is to bring awareness, and there’s much more dangerous drugs they are administering,” Slater said. “I’m not sure why they can’t administer cannabis, especially when it’s legal on the state level.”

Liz said this is yet another battle in the fight to get Jadyn back to a normal life. But, she said it is one she is more than willing to take on because she finally has her daughter back.

“It’s the best leap of faith I’ve ever taken, and it’s given my daughter back to me in ways I can’t tell you,” she said. “To see her come back, to be able to ride a bike, to be able to tie her shoes. How do you put a price tag on that quality of life?”