By Bob Katzen
Governor Baker vetoed and sent back to the Legislature a section of the cannabis bill that he recently signed into law. The section he vetoed would require the Cannabis Control Commission, in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health, to conduct a study and issue recommendations on how to remove obstacles that currently prevent students at public and private K-12 schools from possessing and consuming medical marijuana on school grounds.
Baker noted that current law states as clearly as possible that possession and consumption of marijuana must remain unlawful on the grounds of any K-12 school, on school buses and in youth centers.
“The language of the section [that I vetoed] is highly prescriptive—making it clear that the agencies charged with producing the study must identify ways to make medical marijuana widely available within schools, rather than considering whether such an allowance is advisable,” wrote Baker is his veto message. “The voter initiatives that legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and 2016 included strong measures to keep marijuana away from K-12 schools and school children. Both laws explicitly stated that marijuana would in no circumstance be permitted on school grounds. [Current law] also states as clearly as possible that possession and consumption of marijuana must remain unlawful on the grounds of any K-12 school, on school buses and in youth centers. Because the study … clearly works against these important and well-established protections and disregards the clear intentions of the voters in legalizing marijuana use, I cannot approve this part of the bill.”
Supporters of the study say they understand the governor’s concerns but note that this is only a study to get more information. They point out that the District of Columbia as well as 10 states—California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington—allow students to take medical marijuana on school grounds during the school day as part of their daily treatment. They say that just because a student is in school at the time, he or she should take his or her dose does not mean that the dose should not be given.