PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health is asking school districts statewide to come up with a plan on how to safety administer medical marijuana to students who need it.
The request is part of a new state regulation, which requires districts to provide a clear outline for school nurses tasked with administering the drug.
The Health Department said there are currently 20 students statewide that have medical marijuana cards, which is necessary to receive the drug.
Districts must choose a designated space where the medical marijuana can be administered, according to the regulation, with self-administration and smoking of the drug being prohibited.
“Rhode Island has had medical marijuana since 2006 but policies and procedures for administration in schools were not in place,” the Health Department said in a statement. “The regulations require a written and signed statement from the student’s parent or legal guardian releasing the school and employees from liability.”
The new regulation has taken many by surprise, including Providence Teacher’s Union President Maribeth Calabro.
“I’m a little taken aback by it,” she said. “I didn’t even realize that was a thing.”
While she tells 12 News she has the utmost faith in school nurses to safely administer the drug, she’s still questioning the protocols and procedures.
“How is the medication distributed? When is it distributed?” she asked. “If a child has an adverse reactions, what are the steps?”
The Rhode Island Certified School Nurses Teachers Association is also expressing concerns over the new regulation and are waiting to receive more guidance from the state.
12 News reached out to the Rhode Island Department of Education regarding the new regulation but have not yet heard back.
The new regulation comes two months after Rhode Island became the 19th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use.