California’s New Law on Cannabis

Chloe Slome, Centerspread Editor

A new year means new legislation goes into effect, with Senate Bill 223 grabbing the attention of the educational community, affecting all California schools grades K-12.  

On Oct. 9, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that allows medical cannabis that is not in smoking or vaping form to be administered to students by parents on campus. However, whether this law takes effect depends on whether each California school district’s board approves a policy providing this access. 

The bill, sponsored by Senator Jerry Hill, reverses a current prohibition on cannabis possession within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school. Parents will now be able to administer the medical cannabis on school campus, but the school nurses will not be able to administer or store the cannabis at school. 

Senator Hill named the bill “Jojo’s Act” for a teenager in South San Francisco who uses medical cannabis to treat his severe epilepsy. The bill was meant for students with debilitating conditions where medical cannabis is necessary. 

Last year Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill, however, this year Senator Hill lifted barriers for hundreds of students suffering from severe illnesses who will now be able to get on with their studies without having to be removed from their school campus to take their medication.

While the use of cannabis is medically necessary for some patients, cannabis can have long-term effects on adolescents and teenagers because the brain is not fully developed until the early or mid-20s. 

According to American Addiction Centers, studies have shown that the use of marijuana is associated with reduced cognitive function in teens and one study found that teens who regularly use cannabis lose an average of 5.8 IQ points by the time they reach adulthood. 

According to PVHS school nurse Marissa Trevett, when parents administer medical cannabis they must weigh the positives and negative effects cannabis may have on their child. 

Although the bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified District still has to decide what to do. Just as Washington, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, and New Mexico have similar laws in place, California will now join the list of states allowing medical cannabis on school campuses.