By Angela Underwood
New York Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Shelley B. Mayer (D-37th District) said she agrees with Illinois Senate Bill 455, known as Ashley’s Law, which permits a school nurse or certified professional to administer medical marijuana to a student who is a registered patient.
Mayer spoke to the New York Daily Weed Report this week regarding the Senate Committee on Education considering similar legislation in the future. First introduced as House Bill last year in the Prairie State, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker just broadened the legislation while making the medical marijuana pilot program permanent.
Student Ashley Surin had everything to do with it. After Surin, a student who survived cancer and now suffers a seizure disorder, won a federal court fight to use cannabis-infused products on school grounds in 2018, the Illinois legislators began working on their own state law to follow the new federal rule.
Sen. Shelley B. Mayer said she “believes something very close to it was proposed, but it did not get considered by our committee last year,”
However, that is not to say it will not, according to the former New York State Assemblywoman, who was born and raised in Yonkers.
Sen. Shelley B. Mayer said she is “very sympathetic to the parents of these children and what the children need in order to do well.”
Though privy to Surin’s situation, Mayer said it is not unique to Illinois.
“I heard antidotally with many parents how medicinal marijuana has really made a significant improvement in their child’s health, or their daily life, and so when we make it that a parent has to come to school that is really a burden,” she said.
If a nurse can administer an Epi-pen to a student, why can’t they administer cannabis-infused medicine, Mayer asked.
Sen. Shelley B. Mayer said she agrees “We are increasing the amount of responsibility we are placing on schools so the child can have as close to a regular experience like a child without disabilities,” she said.
She said it is particularly pertinent for children who suffer seizure disorder.
“It’s extremely important that they have access to it on a timely basis,” she said.
But it’s easier said than done, according to the senator.
“There are schools, including schools in the district I represent, where there is no school nurse every day.” Sen. Shelley B. Mayer said she understands “It is a challenge to impose on a school district the requirement of a medical professional if there is no medical professional in the building.”
That is just one of the details that New York legislators would have to consider, according to the senator.
“I think it is going to take a conversation with the school community, including the superintendents and the board, who are obviously always concerned about liability,” Mayer said.
However, liability is second to student health, according to Mayer.
“I would be open to sharing it with my committee to figure out if we can move it ahead,” she said. “There are always opportunities to work with the Board of Regents outside of the legislative process and try to make it more practical for health professionals to give medical marijuana once it has been approved by a physician.”
Bottom-line, Mayer said she stands with a “very open mind and a sympathetic heart,” when it comes to implementing legislation like Ashley’s Law here in the Empire State.