Parents Threatened with Arrest for Treating Daughter’s Epilepsy with Legal Cannabis Oil at School
Trenton, NJ – In a precedent-setting case, a state judge ruled this month that the mother of a New Jersey teenager with epilepsy, who is also her legal medical caregiver, cannot go to her school to administer her daughter’s cannabis oil.
The oil treatments, which are legal in the state, control the young girl’s seizures and allow her to function normally in school, according to her parents.
In its opinion, the court reasoned that state and federal laws prohibiting drug possession on school grounds takes precedence over the students right to use medical cannabis derivatives. This ruling is in spite of the fact that New Jersey has already legalized cannabis for medical use.
This court setback is the third such defeat for the Barbour family, who have vowed to continue appealing. According to legal experts, this case is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.
Administrative Law Judge, John S. Kennedy ruled in January and again on appeal in August that the Larc School and the Maple Shade school district are stuck in a legal quandary. If allowed to administer the drug, the school nurse would be violating state laws, which ban the use of drugs in school zones and federal law that deems pot possession a crime.
According to a report by NJ.com:
"Roger and Lora Barbour have sued to require the nurse at their 16-year-old daughter’s special education school in Bellmawr administer cannabis oil, just like the nurse dispenses prescribed medication to other students. Since April, Genny has attended only half-days of school so she can be home for her lunchtime dose of homemade oil, diluted in a small glass of cola."
In his 11-page ruling, the judge wrote that the family failed to show that their daughter would suffer “irreparable harm” if she were denied her medicine during the school day."
“There are no doctor’s reports from (Genny Barbour’s) treating physician that would establish that her lunchtime dose of marijuana is medically necessary,” Kennedy wrote.
In the latest setback last week, Kennedy denied an emergency motion, which sought to allow Genny’s mother, her registered caregiver, to come to school daily to administer the oil.
Roger Barbour, Genny’s attorney, and father, thought the family had a good possibility of winning the case due to Kennedy’s ruling in August. The ruling stated that Genny’s mother should be allowed to administer the oil herself.
In that August 10 decision, Kennedy wrote that as Genny’s registered caregiver, under New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, Lora Barbour “has the ability to assert an affirmative defense against charges of possession or distribution of medical marijuana… even on school grounds.”
After that ruling, Barbour notified the school in writing that Lora Barbour would be there over lunchtime on August 17 to administer the cannabis oil.
“The Larc School remains bound by the existing laws of this state, including but not limited to the Drug Free School Zone Act and the current version of the N.J. Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act,” Larc School attorney Aileen Droughton wrote in a response. “As such, please be advised that no medical marijuana will be administered on The Larc School grounds by any individual.”
After the emergency request was denied, Roger Barbour said he would appeal the decision.
“The judge got it wrong,” Roger Barbour said, arguing that the state medical marijuana provides “exceptions if you have a license.”
“It’s a handicap school, and they give medicine to all of these children,” Lora Barbour said. Compared to the pharmaceuticals and their potentially dangerous side effects, marijuana “is safer than any of these drugs.”
The irony here is that kids can be given dangerous and deadly prescription medication and no one bats an eye. But because this powerful and beneficial plant is deemed “illegal” by some archaic and immoral law, a young girl is forced to suffer.
Prior to the use of cannabis oil Genny suffered daily seizures, but since beginning treatment with cannabis oil her seizures now only occur once every five days, according to Barbour.
“This ruling is devastating in the sense that it is harder for Genny to get her medicine,” Roger Barbour said after reading the decision. “This is all because Genny cannot have her medicine at school just like any other pupil.”
The family’s struggle and publicity surrounding their case was not in vain. Because the family refuses to give up, the state passed a bill that requires schools to allow students with developmental disabilities to consume medicinal cannabis in the form of oil or edibles at school.
Genny has been diagnosed with autism and thus would qualify under the bill.
“I am very confident that we will prevail,” Barbour said.
The legislation sits on the desk of the New Jersey governor waiting to be signed into law. Sadly, anti-cannabis crusader Gov. Chris Christie has thus far refused to sign this common sense bill, which provides medical relief to those most desperately in need.