I have the fortune of working in a school district in northern California in the heart of marijuana country. In the late summer at our back to school staff inservice, our superintendent told us we had yet to have a student come in with their Proposition 215 medical marijuana prescription, but in some schools, it is happening. According to Truthout:
But around the country today, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of high schoolers are bringing pot to school, and they’re doing it legally. Not to get stoned, but as part of prescribed medical treatment. And they don’t have to tell school authorities about it.
Medical marijuana is prescribed for a host of ailments from cancer to insomnia, so what are students using the plant for? Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is commonly being treated with medical marijuana replacing the standard drug Ritalin. My urban teacher friends have described children standing in line to get their daily dose of Ritalin from the school nurse. Could this change to the daily joint or pot brownie? Truthout continues:
“It’s safer than aspirin,” Dr. Jean Talleyrand told the New York Times. Dr. Talleyrand is a marijuana advocate who founded a network of 20 clinics in Oakland, Calif. which dispense medical marijuana – including to teenagers diagnosed with ADHD.
But Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley, calls it “one of the worst ideas of all time.”
He cites studies showing that the active ingredient in cannabis disrupts attention, memory and concentration – already issues for people diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder.
Whether one medically agrees to the medicinal property of marijuana for specific illnesses or not is really moot, as long as doctors are prescribing it to patients in states that allow it. Schools will need to respond appropriately to guarantee patient rights but prevent recreational use. If I had a child with ADD, I think I would prefer they were on cannabis rather than Ritalin because it is a natural remedy.