Polk school board takes up medical marijuana policy as deadline looms

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – The Polk County School Board is closer to finalizing a medical marijuana policy while the state deadline looms.

School districts across Florida are required to come up with a policy on administering medical marijuana to students.

(For more on the policy requirements and an interactive map showing where counties in Tampa Bay stand, click here.)

“It’s a Schedule 1 illegal substance at the federal level and at the state level it’s not and that puts our people administering it at risk,” said Billy Townsend, a school board member.

For Townsend, that is the whole problem. School boards must set up regulations for a drug that is considered illegal on the federal level.

“It’s increasingly becoming legal in various forms everywhere. Having it be treated at the federal level the way it’s treated is stupid and counterproductive,” he said.

The plan in Polk County now follows the lead of other school boards, including Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Caregivers would be able to administer medical marijuana to qualified students, under certain circumstances, at a designated location on campus.

The marijuana would not be able to be kept on school property.

If the federal government indicates the district’s federal funds are jeopardized, the policy will be suspended immediately, the policy reads.

“The complexity of the policy comes directly out of the conflict between the federal government and the state government. We could have a much more sensible policy if those things agree,” Townsend said.

Townsend believes medical marijuana should be treated like any other drug.

Amy Gibson, of Auburndale, agrees.

Her son, Dylan, 13, who has autism, uses medical marijuana to treat his anxiety.

“I understand that they are protecting themselves but it can’t be at the expense of a specific population of kids,” she said. “I would love for them to follow the same guidelines and procedures as other children on other medications.”

The board heard its first reading of the policy on Tuesday.

Members of the public can voice their opinions on the issue at a hearing at the next school board meeting on Dec. 10.

The board is expected to vote on approving the policy at that meeting.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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