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Policy adviser recommends its Florida school district clients not adopt medical marijuana rules

The state's legislative auditing agency has asked districts for their policy plans.
Published Oct. 8, 2018
Updated Oct. 10, 2018

The Florida Legislature's office of policy analysis and government accountability has given the state's 67 school districts to the end of Monday to report how they're dealing with student medical marijuana needs.

Neola, the firm several districts have hired to maintain and revise their policy manuals, has advised its clients it will not write any rules for districts to implement not to adopt any rules. They can do it by themselves if they want, Neola president Dick Clapp said, but his firm has several concerns about the laws in play.

Key to its rationale is Neola's observation that the Florida statute, adopted after a 2016 statewide referendum, violates federal law.

"It has been, and continues to be, our position that the policies and procedures mandated by F.S. §1006.26(8) would violate Federal law, including, but not limited to, The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and The Drug Free Workplace Act. Neola is concerned that if a District adopts a policy in response to F.S. §1006.062 and the Federal government decides to strictly enforce existing Federal law, the District would be in a position to lose Federal grant funds," Clapp wrote to client districts, which include Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties.

Clapp further noted the section of the Florida constitution allowing medical marijuana does not give immunity under federal law, and does not require schools to permit on-site use of medical marijuana.

He added, "It is our understanding that licensed nurses in Florida are not permitted to administer Schedule 1 narcotics, and, therefore, they could not be designated as caregivers under F.S. §1006.26(8) and F.S. §381.986. Administering medical marijuana could put their license at risk."

Several districts, including Volusia and Broward counties, have adopted related policies regardless. Others have refused to take that step.

Pasco County district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said her district had no plan to put a medical marijuana policy in place. Instead, she said, it is considering  each request on an individual basis.

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect more specifically Neola's advice to school districts.