Oklahoman’s decision to legalize medicinal cannabis continues raising questions about who may use it and carry a medical marijuana card, including students and school employees.
The new law has forced schools to look at their own policies and determine how to handle the use of marijuana among students, faculty and staff. Tahlequah Public Schools adopted a new policy in September 2018, which states that regardless of the status of a student, employee, parent or anyone else who is a medical marijuana license holder, marijuana is not allowed on any of the district’s properties or vehicles. The substance is “strictly prohibited” by anyone who is on school premises, traveling to or from a district-sponsored event, using district equipment, or “in any other instance in connection with the district where the district reasonably deems the possession of marijuana to be illegal.”
“In the event that a student, employee, parent or any individual is found to possess or to have possessed marijuana in any of the instances stated above, the district will proceed with all actions and consequences that are afforded under any state or federal law, employment contract, district policy, student handbook provision, or any other authority applicable to or adopted by the district,” the policy states.”
According to the Tahlequah High School student handbook, all students involved in extra-curricular activities or athletics are subject to random drug testing. Bus drivers are also subject to random drug testing.
Most public schools in Cherokee County have similar policies for medical marijuana. At Hulbert Public Schools, Superintendent Scott Kempenich said bus drivers are drug-tested and cannot have marijuana in their systems at any time.
Teachers are not subject to random drug tests, but student athletes are, and they cannot have cannabis in their systems.
If a bus driver is found to have marijuana in his or her system, the driver is put on leave or terminated. Meanwhile, Kempenich said, student athletes who test positive for THC – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – “will attend mandatory counseling and be suspended for two games on first offense.”
“We do not have a specific policy that states a teacher/student cannot hold a medical marijuana card,” he said. “We do have policies in place that state teachers and students cannot be under the influence of marijuana on school grounds.”
The state does offer medical marijuana minor patient licenses for people under age 18 to legally possess, use and grow medical marijuana. They must have a recommendation from two physicians, as well as the approval of a parent or legal guardian, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
At Keys Public Schools, bus drivers and all new employees are drug-tested, as well as students involved in extra-curricular activities. Because the district is federally funded and marijuana remains an illegal substance on the federal level, it is not allowed on campus.
“Now if a kid came to us with a doctor’s statement, they weren’t involved in any activities, and they needed it for medical purposes, I think we’d probably have to abide by it,” said Superintendent Vol Woods. “That situation hasn’t happened yet.”
KPS has no policy that states a teacher or student cannot hold a medical card. Aside from new employees or bus drivers who are not allowed to test positive for marijuana, the district “really wouldn’t know if they had it or not, because that’s not something we ask them,” said Woods.
For more information on medical marijuana licenses for minors or the use of it among school employees, visit omma.ok.gov.