A policy to allow the administration of medical marijuana to students in the Toms River Regional school district was introduced on first reading by the Board of Education Wednesday night, but not without controversy.
Before the board took a vote on the measure, which would allow parents to administer medical marijuana to students on school grounds, on buses and at school-sponsored events, a South Toms River resident took issue with a prior discussion of the policy at a board committee meeting.
“Medical marijuana is always a last resort for children and teenagers, which means when all else has failed to keep the patient stable, this can be used,” said Krista Whittaker, who felt she was “belittled” by the board at the policy meeting where the issue was discussed. “Can you imagine watching your child suffer for over a year, and then be told this is their last option? You worry about, ‘what if people think my child is a pot head?’ What if is not covered by insurance?'”
Whittaker said Board President Robert Onofrietti joked about the issue during the meeting – a charge Onofrietti denied, saying he asked a serious question on edible marijuana that led to a chuckle.
“I did not laugh,” said Onofrietti. “I take offense to the fact that you’re going to come up here and say anyone on this board is belittling our children.”
Ultimately, the board passed the policy, which calls for both the student and parent to be authorized to take and administer the drug. Parents wishing to administer marijuana to their children would be required to notify the school principal, who would consult with the school nurse, physician and superintendent before providing written approval with the parameters under which the substance would be used. Marijuana would be able to be administered on school grounds, on a school bus or during school-sponsored activities. The policy calls a parent to remain in possession of the drug except when physically administering it to their child.
The board must take a second vote on the policy before it is formally adopted. The policy is in response to a state law passed last year that requires districts to enact policies that allow the administration of medical marijuana to students.