CSBA’s “New Laws for California Schools” series highlights new laws signed in 2019 affecting K-12 education. New laws are effective Jan. 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted. The What’s New for 2020 report on all new laws affecting education is available at www.csba.org/whatsnewfor2020.
Senate Bill 223 (Hill, D-San Mateo) is nicknamed “Jojo’s Act,” named for a teenager in South San Francisco who suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that causes debilitating seizures. Lennox-Gastaut is one of a number of diseases affecting California’s youth that can be treated or have its symptoms mitigated by the use of medical cannabis.
Under current law, medical cannabis cannot be consumed on or brought to school campuses. SB 223 permits a governing board to adopt a policy that will allow a parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to their child on school grounds in a non-smoking and non-vaping form (i.e. oil, capsule, tincture, topical cream or similar product), if the student is a qualified medical cannabis patient with a valid doctor’s recommendation.
Currently, students who are medical cannabis patients and need an administration of medicinal cannabis during the school day must be picked up by their parents and taken off school campus in order to receive their medicine — a process which is significantly disruptive to their school day. Some parents have even made the decision to place their students in private schools to allow for ease of administering medicinal cannabis, as private schools are able to allow for on-campus administration of the medicine. Through the passage of this bill, the ability of parents to administer medicinal cannabis on public school and charter school campuses addresses these barriers.
A similar bill also by Senator Hill, SB 1127, was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 223 on October 9.
Key provisions of SB 223:
- Taking effect Jan. 1, this bill applies to school districts, county offices of education and charter schools.
- A parent or guardian must not disrupt the educational environment while administering medical cannabis.
- Parents/guardians must bring all cannabis medicine with them and must sign in upon arrival to administer to their student, and take it with them afterwards — the bill does not permit medical cannabis to be stored at a school site.
- The bill does not require any school staff to handle cannabis at any time.
- The bill is not compulsory. Governing boards may adopt a policy allowing for administration of medical cannabis at their school sites, as specified, and may opt out of this policy at any time, including if there is real or potential loss of federal funding as a result of the policy.
- The bill allows the policy to be amended or rescinded at a special meeting, in compliance with the Brown Act, if exigent circumstances necessitate an immediate change to the policy and the governing board addresses at the meeting its intent to amend or rescind the policy.
CSBA impacted sample policies: BP/AR 5141.21 – Administering Medication and Monitoring Health Conditions.