The Larc School in Bellmawr, New Jersey, has become the first school to officially allow students with diagnosed medical conditions and New Jersey medical marijuana prescriptions to consume their medicine on campus during school hours.
Larc School enacted the official policy change after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (you know, the big, conservative guy who traditionally has very dated views on marijuana) bent to public opinion Wednesday and signed a bill to protect schools and teachers from punishment if disabled students consume medical marijuana under their care.
While it may seem random that a school in Christie’s New Jersey would be the first to adopt this policy—though Colorado was the first state to permit medical marijuana in schools, this is the first school to adopt the policy as its own—Larc School does have history in the matter.
Larc School educates students “with a wide range of disabilities,” one of which is 16-year-old Genny Barbour, who suffers from epilepsy. When prescription drugs failed to help Genny manage her symptoms, she and her family discovered a small dose of cannabis oil taken four times per day caused her seizures to dramatically decline.
Last year when school policy prohibited students to medicate during school hours, Genny could only attend half-days in order for her to be able to receive the medicine she needs to keep her seizures at bay. Genny and her parents tried to sue Larc School to change this, yet failed. While the school wanted what was best for Genny, it did not want to risk violating federal marijuana laws.
It was Genny’s struggle that inspired this bill. Since Christie signed it, Genny is free to use her medicine at school, greatly improving her quality of life and managing her symptoms.
“We want the best for Genny,” said Larc School Executive Director Susan Weiner. “We were not able to do it legally last year… We are pleased to help the family. I know there are so many kids in this state and across the country who can benefit from this. We’re grateful that our legislators recognized it’s a sincere need that helps students, because we do see the difference.”
Many are extremely grateful to Gov. Christie for putting the obvious necessity and honorable intentions of this bill in front of his own outspoken anti-marijuana beliefs. He signed the bill without making any public comments—a rare feat for controversial Christie, who rarely shies away from the opportunity to make a splash.
“It was an issue we thought was important, and the governor recognized its importance and the narrow scope of it,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D), who co-sponsored the bill. “It was the right thing to do.”