Monday, September 9, 2019

Social Equity and New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis in Schools Law



Social equity is a concept that applies concerns of justice and fairness to social policy. Since the 1960s, the concept of social equity has been used in a variety of institutional contexts, including education, public health and public administration.

The guidance for the medical cannabis in schools law, by the Public Education Department, states that the Department of Health is not going to allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to patients in the state’s medical cannabis program. This policy guidance from the PED is misconstruing state law and it also misconstrues Federal Policy about state medical cannabis laws.

Senate Bill 204, the medical cannabis in schools law, is written very clearly and the Public Education Department does not have the ability to change how the law was written or the intent of how the law was written. And that’s exactly what has happened.

The practice of administering medication for a RN involves providing the patient with a substance prescribed and intended for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a medical illness or condition.

Medical cannabis is not a prescription and not prescribed. People in the state’s medical cannabis program are provided a Written Medical Certification Form and are then Recommended into the state’s medical cannabis program by medical professionals like Doctors and Nurses.

And according to state law for the medical cannabis program, Section 8 in subsection E: medical cannabis products are exempt from the state’s Schedule I CSA;

“E. the enumeration of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols or chemical derivatives of tetrahydrocannabinol as Schedule I controlled substances does not apply to the use of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols or chemical derivatives of tetrahydrocannabinol by certified patients pursuant to the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act or by qualified patients pursuant to the provisions of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act;” [https://nmhealth.org/publication/view/policy/128/]

A school nurse that would administer medical cannabis is fulfilling that recommendation for medical cannabis use for that persons written certification into the program. These medical cannabis products allowed for use in schools are not a prescription, they are exempt from the state’s CSA, and these products are safer than using aspirin.

Recommendation or ‘Commendare’ in latin means ‘commit to the care of’, and that is what the school nurse would be doing which is different from administering a prescription medicine.

The school nurse would be conducting activities authorized in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act and the school nurse would be doing so as a "designated school personnel". According to SB-204 that means a school employee whom a public school, charter school or school district authorizes to possess, store and administer medical cannabis to a qualified student in accordance with the provisions of SB-204 law.

And then from Senate Bill 406, the Medical Cannabis Changes law from Section 14 in Subsection C and D;
“C. A school shall not refuse to enroll or otherwise penalize a person solely for conduct allowed pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, unless failing to do so would cause the school to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulation.
D. For the purposes of medical care, including an organ transplant, a qualified patient's use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act shall be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication under the direction of a physician and shall not be considered to constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a qualified patient from medical care."” [https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0406.pdf]

A school nurse or other school personnel would be conducting activities authorized in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act and the school nurse would be doing so as a "designated school personnel" and what the school nurse would be doing is not considered to constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a qualified patient who is a student from medical care at school, all of which is conduct allowed pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, the Medical Cannabis in Schools law (SB204) and the Medical Cannabis Changes law (SB-406).

The Public Education Department, Department of Health, Albuquerque Public Schools, and Rio Rancho Public Schools all have failed to establish reasonable parameters regarding the administration and use of medical cannabis and the school settings in which administration and use are authorized as clearly provided for in the medical cannabis in schools law.
[Section B of SB-204; Subsection 2 on pages 2 -3: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0204.pdf]

The Public Education Department, Department of Health, Albuquerque Public Schools, and Rio Rancho Public Schools are all in violation of subsections 1 and 2 of Section D of the law, as the policy guidance and proposed policies are both discipling the student (and their family for that matter) and is denying eligibility to attend school by not allowing for a reasonable accommodation necessary for the student to attend school.
[Section D of SB-204; Subsection 1-2 on pages 3-4: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0204.pdf]

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to the tasks, environment or to the way things are usually done that enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate in an academic program or a job (U.S. Department of Education, 2007).

Even further, the New Mexico School Health Manual states;
“If there is not a school nurse to delegate medication administration the best practice is to have a parent/guardian administer the medication to reduce potential risk to the student and school district. This alternative is found to be impractical and may not be an option if the parent/guardian is not able, capable, or is unwilling.”
[Last paragraph on page 66 of the New Mexico School Health Manual: https://nmhealth.org/publication/view/guide/4317/]

The intent of the new Medical Cannabis in Schools law (SB-204) is to allow for that reasonable accommodation to be created. That reasonable accommodation allows these families to have a family life by being able to go to work, attend graduate school, and live their lives to create a better future for their families. That reasonable accommodation allows for their student to go to school and be given their medicine just like all the other students while at school.

The medical cannabis in schools law is clearly written in a way for that reasonable accommodation to be met by the PED and the Schools with rules and regulations that match the state law by allowing for school personnel to administer medical cannabis and by allowing for the storage of the students medicine at school.

The New Mexico Public Education Department has also ignored the facts with Federal laws and policy about state medical cannabis laws in the US, within the PED’s issuance of the guidance pdf provided to the schools. And that’s also where the Governor should have been performing her duty to see that the laws of the state are faithfully executed, like with this Medical Cannabis in Schools law. Senate Bill 204 and 406 are both protected state medical cannabis laws as provided in Federal Policy.
[Link: http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2019/09/ped-rio-rancho-and-aps-medical-cannabis.html]

Currently there are now 10 states and one capital city with comprehensive medical cannabis programs allowing safe access to medical cannabis at school: Oklahoma City School District and these ten states; California, New Mexico, New Jersey, Maine, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois and Virginia.

No school or school district in the US has ever lost any federal funding for allowing safe access to medical cannabis at school, nor has there been any problems. No school personnel has ever gotten in any trouble...none.



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