New law requires schools to adopt a medical marijuana policy

Families gather at the Colorado State Capitol for the signing of HB 16-1373.

DENVER, Colo. (KKTV) Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law on Monday that would require school districts to adopt a policy to allow medical marijuana.

The law only applies to students who have a license to use non-smokeable marijuana.

Many families have found that the drug works well to stop symptoms of debilitating diseases.

Jack Splitt of Jefferson County has cerebral palsy and uses medical cannabis. He and his mom, Stacy Linn, won a huge battle last year when a law was passed in Colorado allowing medical marijuana in schools.

"He normally has a talker on his chair that he uses to communicate. The marijuana makes it so that he can hold his head still in order to operate that device, and the marijuana also makes it so that he’s not so sedated so that he can’t learn," said Linn.

Even after that law was signed in 2015, not a single school district changed their drug policy.

Jaxon Stormes was suspended from his District 49 school last year after he accidentally brought cannabis pills in his lunch. Jax has Dravet syndrome and uses the cannabis for his severe seizures. At the time, the school's policy said Jax brought a controlled substance to school.

"He has an IQ of 31. Why are you suspending a kid who didn't make the lunch and didn't send it to school?" said Jennie Stormes, Jax's mother.

Both Jack and Jax's mothers, along with other families, started fighting for their kids to get access to what many of them describe as the only medicine that works.

"The attitudes are changing and we are so grateful for that because there is no more fear ... It's not scary, it's good. It's a miracle," said Linn.

With the governor's signature, the new law requires all Colorado school districts to adopt a policy allowing medical marijuana on school grounds.

The districts can opt out if they can prove that they have lost federal funding because of the policy or if they place an easy-to-find explanation on their website as to why they are opting out.

The law also said that if any district loses federal funding, the state will reimburse whatever is lost.

Before this law was passed, D-49 already created and adopted a medical marijuana policy. They started working on the policy after Jax's suspension; they even named the policy after Jax.

Their policy will go into effect at the beginning of the next school year, and D-49 has said they hope other districts reach out to them when drafting their policies.

The law and D49's policy only allows non-smokeable marijuana to be used on school grounds. The medicine would have to be brought, administered, and taken away from the school by the student's primary caregiver. No school employee would be required to give the student cannabis.