AG: Girl can use medical marijuana at school

An 11-year-old girl with leukemia suffers seizures due to years of chemotherapy and her parents are suing the Chicago school district for banning her use of medical marijuana

Tom Iopollo, an assistant attorney general for the state, assured attorneys for the suburban Chicago school district and the parents of Ashley Surin that IL would not prosecute the child or any school officials who may administer medical cannabis products to Ashley.

Parents Jim and Maureen Surin said after the hearing that they were relieved and excited by the ruling because marijuana has been so beneficial for their daughter Ashley. Late a year ago, a physician prescribed a ketogenic (high fat, low carbohydrate) diet and medical marijuana for Ashley - what her parents say is proving to be a "golden cure". "She's more energetic. She speaks in longer sentences".

"She's more responsive", Surin said.

The parents said the policy violates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ashley Surin was diagnosed with leukemia in December of 2008. Superintendent Andy DuRoss says School District 54 will abide by the law.

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School officials, the attorney filing the lawsuit and national marijuana activists and opponents interviewed for this story did not know of any previous similar court case, meaning this lawsuit could set legal precedent.

"Both state and Federal law prohibit the possession or use of cannabis in any form on school grounds or on school busses - and it's not reasonable to think - with the advances in medication that we can't serve children with medications as they develop over time", said Darcy Kriha, an attorney for the school district.

He added that the district will comply with whatever is ordered by the courts, with the groundbreaking hearing taking place Friday. They hope she continues to improve as she is weaned off the other medications and as she gets back to school.

The family's lawyer has requested a preliminary order that would allow the girl to immediately go to school with the patch and let school officials administer cannabis oil drops.

Ashley has an individualized education plan for intellectual impairments, and attends "mainstream" classes with a teacher's aide, according to the suit.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that the plaintiffs of the federal lawsuit, who are identified by initials, contend the state's ban on taking the drug at school is unconstitutional.

The family asked the school district to store the medical marijuana on school grounds at Hanover Highlands Elementary in case it was necessary during the school day.

"The parents have told me that the difference between their daughter and now is like night and day", the family's attorney Steven Glink told USA TODAY describing the girl's condition before and after she started medicating with marijuana.

At least one other state has addressed the issue legislatively. Jack, who had cerebral palsy, died in 2016. The law prohibits smoking the drug in school, but allows patches or tinctures, as long as it's not disruptive to classrooms. The child suffers from seizures following a battle with leukemia.

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