Governor Jared Polis signed a new law on Wednesday expanding access to and use of cannabis-based medicine in schools, a move he said was overdue.
Bipartisan Act SB21-56 removes the power that school principals must or must not currently allow the storage and administration on school premises of non-smokable cannabis-based medicines used to treat seizures and other illnesses.
Once the new law goes into effect this fall, school authorities will have to implement guidelines that allow school staff to store and administer this medicine on school premises. Any school employee who feels uncomfortable performing these duties can reuse themselves, the new law states, but officials cannot exempt entire schools from the law.
Colorado “is finally going to treat cannabis like other prescribed drugs,” said Polis, a longtime cannabis attorney.
The new law was widespread in the legislature, garnering votes from 90 of the 100 state legislatures. His champions include two Republicans from Douglas County, the Senate minority leader, and Chris Holbert and Rep. Kevin Van Winkle. Holbert has named this legislation the most significant of his career in office, and he and other lawmakers have recognized parents’ support for advancing this policy.
“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between educating their child and having access to life-saving drugs,” said Van Winkle. “It’s been a long way.”
As lawmakers expand access to cannabis for school-age patients, they could also seek to restrict certain non-medicinal cannabis products. A bill to tighten regulation of highly potent THC products and restrict children’s access is expected to be introduced in the coming days.