Judge’s ruling that 5th grader can use medical marijuana at school stirs controversy

A federal judge ruling that allows an 11-year-old suffering from leukemia to use medicinal marijuana to treat her illness has ignited a debate about the future of medical marijuana across the nation.

The parents of 11-year-old Ashley Surin, who was diagnosed with the disease in late 2008, had sued Schaumburg School District 54 claiming that their refusal to allow their child to take medical marijuana at school violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act and “due process.”

On Friday, a federal judge backed them up, according to WGN.

The ruling will allow Surin, whose treatments for the seizures that accompany her chemotherapy have included a combination of medicines, diet, a medical marijuana foot patch and rubbing oil, to continue those treatments at school.

And the foot patch is apparently an integral part of her treatment.

“She can think better, walk better, talk better. Her brain used to be like in a cloud,” Maureen Surin, the girl’s mother, told media. “And now she can think clearer and she’s more alert. She can interact, and can go back to school and learn and not be in a cloud.”

Previously, Hanover Highlands Elementary officials had refused the family’s request to store the medical marijuana on school grounds in case it was needed, citing a state law that prohibits the substance on school grounds or buses.

“All we wanted was for her to be back in school with her friends on her diet, on her medicine and just go on with her 11-year-old life, and that’s why we’re here,” said Surin, whose daughter has been out of school for two weeks.

Now, thanks to the federal judge ruling and an agreement by the Illinois Attorney General not to prosecute, Ashley is expected to be back in school with the ability for staff to administer the medicine consequence free.

“Both state and Federal law prohibit the possession or use of cannabis in any form on school grounds or on school buses – and it’s not reasonable to think – with the advances in medication that we can’t serve children with medications as they develop over time,” school district attorney Darcy Kriha said.

“This (will) not just help her, I hope, but it’s going to help other kids down the road who need to take cannabis at school for another disease that they need to reverse or treat. It’s not a drug. It’s a medicine,” Surin said.

Could the ruling, the first of its kind, be a trendsetter for other school districts across the nation? Twitter reaction was strong with this one.

Finally, the girl’s uncle, “conservatarian” podcaster Mike Opelka, penned a moving insider piece about his niece’s struggle to “use medical marijuana in grammar school.” It’s worth the read.


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