Florida Schools Finally Allow Students to Use Medical Marijuana on Campus

Students attending Miami-Dade public schools will be limited to "non-smokable/non-inhalable products."
Students attending Miami-Dade public schools will be limited to "non-smokable/non-inhalable products." Photo by Jack Taylor / Getty
After decades of futile "Just Say No" policies, Florida school districts are implementing medical marijuana guidelines for students who have medical marijuana cards and need to medicate during school hours.

Contrary to the image of the stoner cutup in class, cannabis has shown promise as a treatment for ADHD. CBD has also been shown to be more effective than many pharmaceuticals to treat anxiety disorders. And cannabis has been used to treat many other conditions that can affect children, including epilepsy.

Nevertheless, it took almost three years for Miami-Dade County Public Schools to implement its policy after an overwhelming number of voters legalized medical marijuana in November 2016.

Smoking or vaping cannabis is still prohibited despite it being legal under the state's medical marijuana law. Instead, students attending Miami-Dade public schools will be limited to "non-smokable/non-inhalable products such as oils, tinctures, edible products, or lotions that can be administered and fully absorbed in a short period of time." The district implemented the policy September 4 to abide by state law.

The policy forbids school personnel from administrating the doses or storing the cannabis on school grounds, as is done with pharmaceuticals. Instead, a parent or caregiver must take the cannabis to the school and administer it to the student in a designated area. The caregiver must be regulated by the state and is required to register with the school. At this time, there are no students or caregivers who have registered with the school district to use or administer medical marijuana, according to Jackie Calzadilla, a district spokeswoman.

Most of Florida's 67 school districts have been hesitant to implement medical marijuana policies because they fear losing federal funding — the U.S. government still views weed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Earlier this month, after a WTSP-TV investigative report about the issue aired, the chancellor of the Florida Board of Education, Jacob Oliva, sent a memo to every superintendent in the state advising they have until December 1 to draft a policy on medical marijuana or risk losing state funding.

In his memo, Oliva mentioned the Miami-Dade, Broward, and Volusia school districts as examples of how those policies should be written. The Broward County school district, which implemented its medical marijuana policy August 7, 2018, was one of the first districts in the state to do so. The Palm Beach County school district implemented its policy this past summer.

Though policies differ from district to district, most appear to be based on Broward's.
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Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who runs Photography Is Not a Crime, an award-winning national news site about First Amendment issues and police abuse.
Contact: Carlos Miller