A new statewide measure in California could wipe out the current inadequate and unacceptable situation that forces certain parents to criss-cross back and forth between work and school in order to provide their children with consistent doses of medical cannabis.
Based in San Bruno, the Garcia family is leading the way for the other parents in similarly restrictive situations. Karina Garcia’s 19-year-old son Jojo suffers from intractable seizures, which left him confined to a wheelchair and in a near-catatonic state at times. Because of his disability, Jojo continues to attend his local high school at his age.
Jojo’s medical cannabis oil contains high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the only treatment that appears to stop his potentially life-threatening seizures. Jojo needs the oil multiple times a day. That’s why his mother is forced to drop what she’s doing to travel to Jojo’s school every day at noon. Medical cannabis is currently not allowed on campus. A new bill has the potential to help Jojo continue receiving his medication while at school, without inconveniencing his family.
Sen. Jerry Hill authored a bill that would allow medical cannabis in non-smoking or non-vaping forms on California K-12 school grounds. The bill would ease the situation of the Garcia family and hundreds of other families across the state. “Many of these students need to take a dose of medical cannabis at regular intervals, which often includes during school hours,” Sen. Hill stated. “Current law does not allow any form of cannabis on school grounds. These students must be picked up by their parents and taken off campus in order to take their medicine. This is very disruptive to their learning.”
Lawmakers chose to name the bill after Jojo. The bill wouldn’t serve as a state mandate, rather the measure would allow any governing board of a K-12 school district, county board of education or a charter school to opt into the policy or to reject it on their own terms.
“California Senate Bill 1127, Jojo’s Act, is named for a South San Francisco High School student living with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome who takes medical cannabis to forestall debilitating seizures that prevent him from attending school and leave him barely able to function,” Sen. Hill’s Communications Director Leslie Guevarra told CULTURE. “Taking this medication, Jojo was able to attend high school and received his diploma this summer. He continues to attend South San Francisco High School as part of a special education program.”
Currently, the school administration doesn’t recognize Jojo’s doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis. Some California schools oppose allowing any kind of medical cannabis on campus in case there is a chance of discordance with federal law.
“Taking this medication, Jojo was able to attend high school and received his diploma this summer. He continues to attend South San Francisco High School as part of a special education program.”
In a state like Colorado with recently expanded cannabis laws, the parents or even school staff can administer medical cannabis to students that need it while they are on campus. Six more states, Washington, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware and Illinois all allow medical cannabis on school grounds to some extent—and none of them have lost federal funding.
“SB-1127 awaits a final vote in the California Assembly,” Guevarra said on Aug. 23. The bill passed the Assembly on Aug. 27 and heads to the governor’s desk for signature as of late-August. The bill has been quite popular. So far, it has garnered the support of Cal NORML, the Board of Registered Nursing, the California Cannabis Industry Association, California School Boards Association, the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California, School Employers Association of California, Southern California Coalition and several school districts and organizations throughout California.