Father's push to give daughter medical marijuana at school may prompt change in state law

John Barclay gives his 7-year-old daughter cookie infused with Cannabidiol to help control her seizures. A new proposed Washington law could let parents bring medical marijuana doses to school. (Photo: KOMO News)

ABERDEEN, Wash. - River Barclay stares at a chocolate chip cookie she knows will help her. The 7-year-old Aberdeen girl suffers from an untraceable form of unspecified epilepsy, according to her father John Barclay.

When traditional medicine wasn’t stopping her grand mal seizures that sometimes would last an agonizing four minutes, her father turned to marijuana.

He puts 25 drops of non-psychotropic cannabis oil into a cookie or apple sauce. The extract is high in Cannabidiol or CBD, as medical marijuana patients refer to it.

It’s a dosage Barclay said has stopped his daughter’s seizures.

“It’s absolutely vital, she wouldn't be here today," said John Barclay.

But there’s an issue.

To stay seizure free, River must have the dose of marijuana at noon, right in the middle of the school day.

She’s a first grader at A.J. West Elementary School in Aberdeen.

At lunch break, John picks up his daughter and when it’s cold, takes here home for lunch and gives her, her dosage. She then stays home and doesn’t complete a full day of school.

“We’ve had to take her down to half days because the school district won't let us take marijuana to campus,” said Barclay. “And it’s been too disruptive to try and bring her back after lunch. It’s very difficult for that kind of transition to happen, I’ve tried.”

What Barclay wants is the opportunity to administer River’s medicine on campus and then leave so she can attend school full time.

“I understand it’s a benefit and we want to do all we can to help,” said Aberdeen School District Superintendent Tom Opstad. “But, we also need to work within the confines of the law in our state.”

Marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government and schools receive federal funding. Most schools also have zero tolerance policies when it comes to illegal drugs on campus, despite the fact medical marijuana has been legal in Washington State since 1998.

Barclay contacted his state representative Brian Blake, ( D-Aberdeen ) with his concerns.

“He wanted is daughter to attend school all day and wanted a way to have schools allow for that," said Blake.

Blake is now sponsoring House Bill 1060, which would add a new chapter to 28A.210 RCW and require school districts to permit a student who meets the nine requirements needed to be a medical marijuana user to consume marijuana for medical purposes on school grounds, aboard a school bus or during a school sponsored event.

“The school districts ,I think may have some angst and we just want to remove any angst they may have,” said Blake.

Opstad said he just wants to follow the law and would like clarity on the issue from the legislature.

“To have river spend full days at school would be phenomenal,” said Barclay. “The school would create a space in the nurses office, principals office and I can just see her at lunch and give her a little cookie and she goes back to class."

Typically, a school nurse gives students prescription medicine during school hours with approval from the student’s parents. HB 1060 would not require a school nurse to be involved. Only parents or authorized care givers would provide the students with medical marijuana. Smoking marijuana would not be permitted.

The bill has now been forwarded to the House Education Committee.

“The other children aren't going to see anything or even understand,” said Barclay. “It’s just River's dad with a cookie."

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