In a total downer of a court ruling, an administrative law judge in New Jersey ruled this week that a 16-year-old girl cannot use medical marijuana in school to manage her severe epilepsy.
Using marijuana while at school would — at least for now — violate a straightforward state law banning drug use in and around schools, the judge found, according to NJ Advance Media.
The girl at the center of the lawsuit is Genny Barbour. Her parents, Roger and Lora Barbour, sued to compel the nurse at Genny’s school to administer cannabis oil to their daughter.
The cannabis oil is homemade by Lora Barbour.
Genny attends the Larc School, which serves students with disabilities in and around Maple Shade, the slightly blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia where the Barbours live.
Roger Barbour, an attorney, argued in court that his daughter’s cannabis oil should be classified just like any other prescription medication.
Judge John S. Kennedy didn’t buy it.
School employees “are mandated to comply with the Drug Free School Zone Act,” Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy’s ruling was not all bad news for the Barbour family, however.
Because Lora Barbour is the teenager’s registered caregiver under New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, she “has the ability to assert an affirmative defense against charges of possession or distribution of medical marijuana” to the girl “even on school grounds,” Kennedy ruled.
Roger Barbour said the family plans to use this loophole and see how school officials react.
“We are going to try to go to school to give Genny her medicine,” the father-lawyer told NJ Advance Media. “If they say no, Lora will come bearing the judge’s decision and will insist on it.”
Genny Barbour’s epilepsy causes her to suffer frequent and dangerous seizures. She has also been diagnosed as autistic. Her parents are using medical marijuana as a remedy of last resort.
For the medical marijuana treatment, the teen sips cannabis oil-laden cola three times each day: in the morning, after school and before bed.
The results of the marijuana treatment have been positive. Genny is having fewer seizures.
When she does have seizures, it’s typically in the afternoon now. Thus, her doctor has recommended that she add a dose of cannabis oil in the afternoon — during school hours.
For their part, the defendants in the lawsuit have argued that the school nurse would be breaking the law if Genny uses medical marijuana at school. Also, federal law very clearly continues to make marijuana possession a crime.
A compromise to allow Genny’s mother to administer the cannabis-laced soda just off campus has been scuttled because the Barbour family is concerned that the commotion would upset their epileptic, autistic daughter. Also, the busy streets around the Larc School are not ideal for walking.
New Jersey lawmakers have been sympathetic to the Barbour family’s plight. The legislature has passed a law which would allow Genny and anyone similarly situated to consume medical marijuana on school premises provided by a registered caregiver (not a school nurse). The bill awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.
With or without the new law, however, federal law remains an obstacle.
Roger Barbour has already indicated that he will appeal the administrative court decision in federal court.
The Barbours’ in-school medical marijuana case appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.