New Jersey Teen with Epilepsy and Autism Wins Right to Take Medical Marijuana at School
"We never thought it would happen," Lora Barbour, Genny's mom, says of Governor Chris Christie signing a bill into law that will allow her daughter and others to receive medical marijuana at school
Genny Barbour, a New Jersey teen with epilepsy and autism, will return to school full time after winning the fight to have the medical marijuana oil she needs administered to her at school, her mother tells PEOPLE.
“We never thought that it would happen,” says Lora Barbour, Genny’s mom. “It was Governor Christie who passed this bill. We thought we would have to battle everything through the court system.”
Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill – inspired by Genny – that authorizes parents or primary caregivers to administer edible medical marijuana to sick or disabled children at school, while protecting school districts from liability. This means Genny, 16, will be able to go back to school full-time – she’s been going for half-days so that she can get the dosage she needs.
The Larc School in Bellmawr , which Genny attends, officially adopted the policy on Nov. 11 and appears to be the first school in the nation to permit medical marijuana on campus, executive director Susan Weiner told NJ.com.
The police went into effect Monday but Genny will not transition to full time immediately, Lora says.
“Genny is still going half-days for now,” Lora says. “In two weeks she will go back to school. We had to set up a plan with her behaviorist to help her transition back into it.”
The new law still doesn’t allow the school nurse to administer the dose – something the Barbours intend to fight for on the legal front as well – so Genny’s mom has to bring her noontime dose to her every day at school.
Lora says she is “very happy” and the win is “huge,” but she would like to see the policy changed to allow the school nurses to administer medical marijuana.
“It’s frustrating because is it a medicine or is it not a medicine?” she says. “What parent has the time to go into the school every day to do it?”
Genny requires medical marijuana oil four times a day to remain stable. If she misses a dose, she becomes agitated and even self-harming, her parents say. She tried various scheduled pharmaceuticals first, but none had decreased the frequency of her seizures or helped her to be attentive in school the way the medical marijuana oil has. But administering Genny’s lunchtime dose became an issue when the Maple Shade School District decided it was illegal under federal law, and a New Jersey court agreed.
The Barbour family has been fighting the court’s decision for the last six months, as well as lobbying for the bill. Lora, 49, says she was surprised when she got a call from her other daughter Marlee, 12, and husband Roger, 50, that it had been signed into law.
“Marlee was at home with Roger, and she says to him, ‘Dad, mom’s Facebook is blowing up! It looks like Governor Christie signed Genny’s bill!’ ” Lora says. “We found out from the people that protest on the Trenton State House steps every week that it passed. They posted it on our Facebook page.”
“It’s funny though, because at first we were very guarded. We didn’t celebrate right away,” Lora says. “When the governor signed it, the school had the choice of what they were going to do. We weren’t sure if they were going to open up their doors to us or if they were going to fight it.”