The state Senate voted 50-2 to allow students who qualify for medical marijuana to consume it on school premises, as long as they don’t smoke it and school officials agree that it won’t disrupt other students.
The measure is named Ashley’s Law, for 12-year-old Ashley Surin of Schaumburg, who takes medical marijuana to treat the epilepsy she developed during chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.
But her parents say the measure will benefit many more children like Ashley, who use medical marijuana to treat serious illnesses.
The family was in the Senate chambers for the vote Thursday, visiting with sponsoring state Sen. Cristina Castro, a Democrat from Elgin, and was ecstatic over the result.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Ashley’s mother, Maureen Surin, said. Now the family is hoping they can join Rauner if he signs the bill into law. The governor’s office could not be immediately reached to say what he will do with the bill.
The law would allow parents, guardians or caregivers to administer drops or oils at school. School personnel would not be required to do so.
Ashley wears a patch and uses lotion containing cannabidiol, or CBD oil, with a small amount of THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis, last December. It does not get her high, but has eliminated her seizures, her parents said.
“We feel like we’re watching a miracle happen,” Maureen Surin said. “She thinks better, she talks better. She used to do one- and two-word sentences. Now she speaks in run-on sentences. Her life has been given back to her.”
Illinois law allows children under 18 to take medical marijuana if two doctors certify that they have a medical condition that qualifies. But the new proposal would change current law, which prohibits possessing marijuana on school grounds.
Ashley’s parents had sued in federal court for the right to give her medical marijuana at her school, Hanover Highlands Elementary School in Hanover Park. In January, officials from Schaumburg School District 54 and the Illinois Attorney General’s office agreed to let Ashley store the drug in the school nurse’s office and put on the lotion at school, which she has been doing since then while continuing her recovery.
But a change in state law would be needed to let other children do so. Since the state legalized medical marijuana, effective in 2014, the state reports that it has approved about 37,000 qualifying patients, 279 of whom are under age 18. The drug remains illegal under federal law, but medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and recreational marijuana has vbeen approved in nine states.
State Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, sponsored the bill.
“The vote seems to indicte a change in the train of thought about cannabis,” Lang said. “We may have gone over the hump in explaining what this product is and isn’t.”
In April, the Senate approved the measure 99-1. Now the governor has 60 days from its passage to act on the bill.
Make America Stoned Again$19.99 – $21.99 Select options
Make America Stoned Again Hoodie$29.99 – $34.99 Select options
Make America Stoned Again Leggings$29.99 – $31.99 Select options
Make America Stoned Again Women’s Hoodie$27.99 Select options
Make America Stoned Again Women’s T$19.99 – $21.99 Select options