Governor Chris Christie signed legislation, P.L.2015, c. 158 (A-4587/S-3049 (Greenwald / Scutari), November 9 which requires schools, as well as facilities providing services to persons with developmental disabilities, to adopt policies permitting administration of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
Under the new law, school district boards of education must adopt a policy which permit parents, guardians, and primary caregivers to administer medical marijuana to a student in a non-smokable form while the student is on school grounds, aboard a school bus, or attending a school-sponsored event, provided the administration is consistent with a school policy that:
- requires the student to be authorized to engage in the medical use of marijuana pursuant to the “Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” and the parent, guardian, or primary caregiver to be authorized to assist the student with the medical use of medical marijuana;
- establishes protocols for verifying the registration status and ongoing authorization concerning the medical use of marijuana for the student and the parent, guardian, or primary caregiver;
- expressly authorizes parents, guardians, and primary caregivers to administer medical marijuana to the student while the student is on school grounds, aboard a school bus, or attending a school-sponsored event;
- identifies locations on school grounds where medical marijuana may be administered; and
- prohibits the administration of medical marijuana by smoking or other form of inhalation.
A similar policy must be developed at facilities providing services to persons with developmental disabilities.
The law confers immunity from civil and criminal liability and professional disciplinary action for persons acting in accordance with the “Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-18 and section 6 of P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-6).
Prior to enactment of the new law, New Jersey’s medical marijuana law did not authorize the use of medical marijuana in schools or day programs serving developmentally disabled adults. In the absence of a state law on the subject, several school districts prohibited the use or administration of medical marijuana on school grounds in light of potential federal and state criminal liability.
In response, parents of students with severe seizure disorders appealed district decisions, arguing that it disrupted their children’s school attendance and could jeopardize their children’s overall health. In one case, a student attended school on a part-time basis so that the marijuana, which appeared to reduce the frequency of the student’s seizures, could be administered mid-day. The Administrative Law Judge presiding over the parents’ appeal found in favor of the school’s decision to ban the drug. That OAL decision is currently under appeal and will likely be affected by enactment of the new law.
In response to media on the issue, the Legislature became engaged on the subject just prior to the election break, with the bill moving through both houses in the space of a week back in late June. The Assembly passed the legislation, 59-9-10, on June 23, followed by the Senate which approved the measure and sent it to the Governor’s desk on June 29 by a vote of 33-4.
The new law is effective immediately.