A Farmington woman said her son is unable to get a much-needed dose of medical marijuana at school, and she blames federal law.
Jean Mason’s son, Caleb, 15, has a severe case of autism.
“It’s tough because Caleb is non verbal,” Mason said. “He has self-injurious behaviors, severe OCD.”
The only thing that helps, she said, is medical marijuana.
“Two teaspoon dosage makes all the difference in whether he can function during the day or whether he’s completely falling apart,” Mason said.
The problem is Caleb can’t just walk down the hall and get it from the school nurse.
“It’s really unfair to him to send him to school every day, setting him up for failure,” Mason said.
Maine law allows a parent or legal guardian to come to the school and administer medical marijuana, but the Masons live in Farmington and Caleb’s school, specifically for kids with autism, is in Lewiston.
“We live over an hour away and there’s absolutely no way that we could afford to do that,” Mason said.
Mason said she knows of other parents who feel they have no choice but to break the law.
“Parents get so desperate for the better good of their children that they will sneak it into their food, or sneak it into their drinks, or whatever they have to do to make sure their child gets that dosage,” Mason said.
Her frustration isn’t directed toward the school, but the federal government.
Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin and ecstasy, defined by the government as those with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
“I think it’s absurd,” Mason said.
The designation limits research and means it’s still illegal at the federal level, putting schools in a tough spot.
“So that creates a conflict between the ability to dispense medical marijuana on school grounds by school staff,” Maine School Management Association Deputy Executive Director Eileen King said.
King said superintendents tell her the current policy is working well.
She points out that parents who can’t administer medical marijuana themselves, are allowed to designate a caregiver.
That person has to register with the state and undergo a criminal background check.
“We have exhausted all efforts to try to find somebody to be able to go to the school,” Mason said.
A caregiver hasn’t been a solution for the Mason family, or some others.
In 2018, a parent testified at the State House about how marijuana stops her son’s seizures within seconds, but only if he gets it right away.
“Having to worry about getting him his medication is just a ridiculous worry that families should not have to face,” Mason said.
There are a number of proposals in Congress right now, including to remove marijuana completely from the federal list of illegal drugs.
When asked whether removing marijuana from the Schedule 1 list could result in changes to the policy, King said, “It could. I wouldn’t encourage it. I think the policies we have in place provide safeguards for all of our staff and all of our students.”