A pending lawsuit filed on January 10, 2018 against Schaumburg Township Elementary School District 54 and the State of Illinois addresses the state’s current ban on the presence and use of medical marijuana on school grounds.
The Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, effective as of 2014, protects and exempts patients from state prosecution. However, the Act specifically prohibits the possession and use of medical marijuana on the grounds of any preschool, primary, or secondary school, as well as in a school bus and in close physical proximity to anyone under 18 years of age.
Ashley is an 11-year-old student in District 54 who fought leukemia beginning at age 2 with extensive chemotherapy. She is now in remission, but suffers from persistent daily seizures due to brain damage as a repercussion from her past treatments.
To control her seizures, Ashley utilizes a prescribed foot-patch with a small amount of THC, a chemical compound in the cannabis plant, as well as a medical marijuana extract oil applied to her wrists. Since commencing this treatment plan in December, Ashley has encountered only one seizure.
At a brief hearing on January 12th, a federal judge declared that Ashley should be allowed to use her medical marijuana at school while officials from the Illinois Attorney General’s office and District 54 sort out the details of a long-term plan. The Attorney General’s office has agreed not to prosecute school employees who dispense the medication to Ashley.
Currently, only three states of the 29 in which medical marijuana is legal allow students to use their legal prescriptions in schools under varying conditions: New Jersey, Maine, and Colorado.
Here in Illinois, Ashley has been able to rejoin her peers at school while her doctors and school officials collaborate to create a long-term plan. Her parents reported that she was given a supportive and warm welcome back to school from the principal, assistant superintendent, and a handful of others.