By: Jake Morask
State legislators have taken a step toward giving access to medical marijuana for kids at school. Per Robert McCoppin of the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Senate has overwhelmingly voted to approve Ashley’s Law, which will allow students who use medical marijuana for treatment to be able to consume it on school premises. The law is named after a young girl named Ashley Surin who uses medical marijuana to treat the epilepsy that she developed from undergoing chemo treatment for her Leukemia. “Ashley wears a patch and uses lotion containing cannabidiol, or CBD oil, with a small amount of THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis . . . . It does not get her high, but has eliminated her seizures, her parents said.” (McCoppin). The law passed in the Senate 50-2 and was sponsored by Elgin Democrat Christina Castro. Now the law will be sent to Rauner where he will decide whether or not to sign it into effect, which seems like what pretty much everybody wants (minus the two “no” voters). Apparently parents, guardians, or caregivers can administer the treatment so school employees don’t have to do so and face possible discomfort. I would have liked for the article to mention whether or not the kids themselves can administer their treatment without a guardian (which would make sense to me) but it’s kind of hard to tell.
Either way this is a good law and a bit of uplifting news in a currently depressing political climate. Putting the needs of children in pain ahead of whatever bullshit usually pops up in these debates is admirable and a good template for other political issues. Laws that try to prevent access to medical marijuana for people in pain are cruel and imply that the patient or parents of the patient are somehow irresponsible or worse, that their pain isn’t truly legitimate. It’s good the law passed so easily, indicating that this is something both sides can mostly agree on.
Within the last two months in Illinois there have been great strides in Marijuana policy. Patients who would otherwise get an Opiate prescription are now able to possibly substitute that for Medical Marijuana access, and in April the Illinois House voted to allow people charged with small weed possession or paraphernalia to petition for expungement. These are but small steps toward a time when hopefully there’s not a single person sitting in jail for a Marijuana offense, or a single person suffering from pain who might see relief using medical marijuana but can’t get it. Also, looking at the program’s website, I hope these prices for applications come down or are done away with in general. I don’t see why someone should have to pay $100 for a one year registration period. Is it a crazy amount of money? No, but for people who struggle everyday to put food on the table for them and their families, this amount could legitimately turn them away. If one single person finds that they can’t get access to this program because of their economic condition, then I think the program is a failure.