AUBURN — The School Committee gave final approval Wednesday night to a new policy that spells out how students are to be given medical marijuana in school.

The policy is similar to one passed by the Lewiston School Committee in November 2015.

The draft policy recommendation for all Maine schools came from the Maine School Management Association. It stems from a state law that allows students for whom medical providers have approved the use of medical marijuana to take the drug at school.

The policy sets conditions, including that medical marijuana cannot be given by school nurses or any school employee; it must be administered by a parent or guardian, and that parent or guardian must provide proof — a written certification — from a medical provider that the student is to have medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana given in school must be in a non-smoking form, and the parent or guardian is to give the drug in a principal’s office or a place approved by the principal.

The policy also says the medical provider must confirm that its use during school hours is necessary, that no school employee or student can possess or hold the marijuana, except when the approved student consumes the drug.

One important reason for passing the policy “is to protect our staff,” School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall said, because school nurses administer prescribed drugs in school. 

“If a medical marijuana situation arose and we did not have a policy, it would put our staff at a disadvantage,” he said.

No Auburn parent or guardian has requested use in school, Kendall said, adding that Auburn wants to be out front of the issue.

Resident Larry Pelletier said he had concerns about medical marijuana use in school.

“I see this thing going south real quick if something happens and a child is severely affected, the child get sick or dies,” Pelletier said.

“Having a policy in place protects the School Department and all its employees from the types of concerns you’re talking about,” said City Councilor Jim Pross, the mayor’s representative to the School Committee. “The absence of a policy is what exposes us to liability.”

How would school officials know the potency of the medical marijuana given in school? Pelletier asked.

“We would not,” Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan replied.

Officials added that would be the responsibility of the parent or caregiver.

If a student were given medical marijuana and had problems, “we would do what we always do: Call 911,” said Superintendent Katy Grondin. “The staff would be aware. It would be like any medication a student is taking.”

The Lewiston School Committee passed a medical marijuana policy recommended by Maine School Management in November, Lewiston Superintendent Bill Webster said Wednesday night.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion,” Webster said. “We didn’t make a big deal about it. It’s restrictive. A doctor has to prescribe it for a student. It had to be administered by a parent. It has to be in tablet form.”

Webster said he was not aware of any Lewiston student taking medical marijuana in school, “but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, according to the policy.”

Webster said he’s very concerned about the use of marijuana by students.

“We have had a number of situations in our schools where children of adults receiving medical marijuana found access to it, with or without parents’ permission,” he said.

Research shows that marijuana use affects brain development, especially for those under the age of 25.

“I have no idea how this pill form relates to what would be smoked,” he said. “We don’t even know how to measure if someone is under the influence for driving. We have so much to learn and prepare for. I am concerned. I recognize it is a release for some who have debilitating conditions, but I wish we as a society were better prepared to deal with abuses.”

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Parents must sign up for automated texts

AUBURN — New regulations from the Federal Communications Commission require parents who want to continue to receive non-emergency text messages from the Auburn School Department must “opt in,” Technology Director Peter Robinson told School Committee members Wednesday.

Parents can and will continue to get emergency notifications via text for things like a school closing, a lockdown or a student not showing up for school, Robinson said.

But other non-emergency messages, informing parents of things like a college financial aid night or guidance officer meetings, will stop unless a parent signs up to get the messages.

This week, parents will be sent a text message — for the last time — informing them that they must sign up and follow the steps on the message to continue to receive the texts.


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