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Administration of Medical Marijuana on School Grounds

posted on Wed, Mar 14 2018 2:35 pm by Will Tilburg

A requester from Maryland contacted the Network with questions regarding how school systems might handle students who are taking medical cannabis. For example, if a third grader was using a medical cannabis patch for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) would the parent be required to make the school aware of that treatment? Is the school nurse responsible for monitoring the administration? As recipients of federal funds, are there any issues of liability for the nurse or the school system? 

The Network examined the Maryland statute governing the use of medical cannabis by persons under 18 years of age. The law is silent on the use or administration of medical cannabis on school grounds. However, the use of medical cannabis is restricted to a list of certifying conditions, which does not include ADHD. There are currently 57 minor patients (out of more than 22,000) registered in the State’s medical cannabis program, and of these, the vast majority are receiving treatment for seizure disorders. In addition,  a qualifying patient under the age of 18 years must have a parent or legal guardian (over age 21) serve as a caregiver (Md. Code Ann. Health-General 13-3301), and the medicine may only be administered by the caregiver.  Therefore, a school nurse is not permitted under the statute to administer the medical cannabis. Since school nurses are not permitted to administer medical cannabis to minor patients there are no liability issues for the nurses at the present time.

Moreover, medical cannabis is outside the definition of “medication” under Maryland’s state code and not prescribed by a physician (qualifying patients are “certified” instead, this relates to the drug’s Schedule I status on the federal Controlled Substance Act), so it falls outside the laws and regulations governing the administration of traditional medications in school. Likewise there is no affirmative requirement in the medical cannabis law requiring a parent to notify a school or school nurse that their child is taking medical cannabis.

As of March 13, 2018, the Maryland State Department of Education or any county board of education had not directly addressed this issue.  


Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.

The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.