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Greenwald and Lampitt push bill allowing sick kids to use medical marijuana oil in school
June 22, 2015
Susan K. Livio
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TRENTON — As the family of a severely ill teenage girl in south Jersey sues for her right to consume medical marijuana oil at school, two state lawmakers Monday introduced a bill that would require school boards to set policies that would allow it to be used in schools across the state.
Parents or a person they designate would be required to come to the school and administer the medical marijuana dose in the form of an edible oil, according to the legislation. No one would be allowed to smoke marijuana on school grounds.
State Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said she and Assembly Lou Greenwald (both D-Camden) were moved by the Barbours' plight. They also understand the challenge for school officials who fear they may violate federal drug laws by allowing cannabis use on school property.
"We both feel it's going to be a heavy lift," getting the bill passed, Lampitt said. "But when you put a face behind an issue like this, people realize there is a strong need. It's not arbitrary, it's real."
Genny Barbour, a 16-year-old girl with a severe form of epilepsy and autism, consumes a tiny dash of the oil four times a day in a soft drink. Her parents, Lora and Roger Barbour say they have a doctor's recommendation Genny take the dose at lunchtime, but the Larc School in Bellmawr and the Maple Shade school district won't allow the cannibus oil on campus out of fear they would be violating federal law. The family's story was first reported in May by NJ Advance Media.
Genny's father, Roger, who is also an attorney, sued the school and the district for violating her right to receive an education. The oil has dramatically reduced the intensity and frequency of her seizures, helping control behavior outbursts and improving her learning skills, according to her parents and documentation from the school.
Administrative Law Judge Judge John Kennedy in January ruled in the school's favor. Barbour appealed, and a closed-door hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Since April, her parents have required she attend only half-days at the school so she can take all four doses.
The bill (A4587) would protect school districts from any liability associated with cannabis use, Lampitt said. Children would have to a developmental disability and be registered with the state's medical marijuana program, according to the bill.
With the medical marijuana program operating in New Jersey since December 2012, "I think people know it can be dispensed properly and people cane be responsible with it," she said.