Ada school board bans medical marijuana on campus

Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson

Ada City Schools will not allow students to use medical marijuana while in school — at least for now.

The Ada Board of Education voted 5-0 Monday to ban the use of medical marijuana on campus or at school-related events. The new policy is in line with the district’s current rules outlawing the use of controlled substances — including alcohol and medical marijuana — on school property.

The board accepted a recommendation from Superintendent Mike Anderson, who felt the district should take a conservative approach to the issue, Anderson said Tuesday. He noted that the new policy reflects the federal government’s position, which does not condone the use of marijuana in any form.

“It ties itself close to the federal law, which we have to be concerned about,” he said. “Because any time you are in conflict with federal law, then you risk losing federal funding.”

Anderson said he did not know of any school districts that have lost federal dollars because they allow medical marijuana on campus, but he did not want to take that chance.

Outlawing medical marijuana

Under a new state law, Oklahomans who hold a valid medical-marijuana license — including eligible students — may use the drug to treat a medical condition. People older than 18 who want a state-issued license must obtain approval from a board-certified physician, and those younger than 19 must have written permission from their parents or guardian and two certified physicians.

The school district’s new policy notes that Oklahoma allows medical-marijuana license holders to use marijuana, but the drug is sill considered a prohibited controlled substance under federal law. As a result, the policy bars students, parents and school employees from possessing marijuana on campus, even if that person holds a valid medical-marijuana license.

The district will take appropriate action if officials discover that someone is using marijuana on campus, in a school-owned vehicle or at a district-sponsored event.

The policy, which was prepared by a law firm that the district uses occasionally, notes that the legal issues surrounding medical marijuana in Oklahoma are new and subject to change.

“These legal aspects and consequences affect many of the district’s current policies regarding employees, students, parents and individuals on district premises or attending district events,” the policy says. “The district will continue to enforce its current adopted policies. As the need arises with changes in state and/or federal law, the district will consider and/or examine district policies in order to assess whether revisions, if any, may be needed to a district policy in order to comply with state and federal law.”

Anderson said the district’s new policy does not prevent students who need medical marijuana from using it off campus and under a parent’s care.

“We’re not denying anyone the opportunity to access and use medical marijuana,” he said. “We’re just not going to allow it on our campus.”

Anderson said the new policy allows Ada City Schools to move forward and track how other districts are dealing with the issue of medical marijuana, then re-evaluate the policy if necessary.

Eric Swanson can be contacted by email at eswanson@theadanews.com.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.