Jojo's Act by Senator Hill Passes Senate, Heads to Governor Newsom for Consideration

August 30, 2019

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – August 30, 2019
Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov,

California Senate Passes Jojo’s Act to Enable Students Who Rely on Medicinal Cannabis to Take Their Medicine at School
Senator Jerry Hill’s SB 223 Now Heads to the Governor’s Desk

 

SACRAMENTO – The Senate today passed Jojo’s Act, the bill by Senator Jerry Hill that would help students living with severe disabilities who rely on medicinal cannabis and need to take their medication during the school day. Senate Bill 223 now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

“Jojo’s Act would lift barriers for students with severe medical disabilities – for whom medicinal cannabis is the only medication that works – so they can take their dose at school and then get on with their studies, without being removed from campus and without disrupting their educational experience or that of their classmates,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Counties. “I thank my colleagues in the Senate and in the Assembly, where Assemblymember Christy Smith championed SB 223, for their support of Jojo’s Act.”

While state law has long permitted the use of medicinal cannabis, no cannabis of any sort is allowed within 1,000 feet of a school. The restriction means that parents of pupils who must take a dose of medicinal cannabis during the school day must remove their children from class, bring them 1,000 feet away from campus, administer the medicine, and then return them to school.

Named for a South San Francisco teenager, Jojo’s Act would enable K-12 school district boards, county boards of education and governing bodies of charter schools to choose whether to allow a student’s parent or guardian to administer medicinal cannabis to the child on campus under strict supervision and conditions, including requirements that:

  • The student is a qualified patient with a valid written medical recommendation for medicinal cannabis, and that the student’s parent or guardian provide a copy of the recommendation to the school to keep on file.
  • The student’s medicinal cannabis is in a nonsmokable and nonvapable form. (Typically, medicinal cannabis for children is administered as oil, capsules, tinctures, liquids or topical creams that do not have the psychoactive effects of recreational marijuana.)
  • The medicinal cannabis is not stored on campus. It would be brought to school by the parent or guardian, then taken away after the student receives the necessary dose.
  • The parent or guardian sign in when coming on campus to administer the medicinal cannabis to the student. They must not disrupt the educational environment or expose other students to medicinal cannabis.

SB 223 does not create a mandate. It allows school districts, counties and charter school governing boards opting into the arrangement to opt out for any reason, including concerns about losing federal funding as a result of the policy. Eight states – Washington, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois and New Mexico – already allow medicinal cannabis to be used at K-12 schools; none has lost federal funding.

Like Jojo’s Act, the laws in the eight states do not permit students to self-administer their medicinal cannabis; they prohibit use of smokable or vapable medicinal cannabis; and they set conditions for administering medicinal cannabis to students. The restrictions and requirements set by Jojo’s Act would meet or exceed those in other states, Senator Hill noted.

The namesake for Jojo’s Act lives with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. He takes medicinal cannabis to forestall debilitating seizures that had prevented him from attending school and left him barely able to function. Jojo’s mother testified to lawmakers that before her son started taking medicinal cannabis, he would suffer as many as 50 seizures a day. Now, he seldom has a seizure. He received his high school diploma in 2018 and currently attends classes as part of a continuing special education program.

An earlier version of Jojo's Act, SB 1127, was vetoed by Governor Brown last year. Senator Hill introduced SB 223 earlier this year to give the legislation a second chance.

Jojo’s Act has bipartisan support. Senators John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, Jeff Stone, R-Riverside County, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, and Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, coauthored SB 223.

Other bills by Senator Hill already awaiting consideration by Governor Newsom include:

SB 304, which would make it easier for district attorneys to consolidate their prosecution of con artists and other scammers who hop from county-to county to financially defraud elderly or dependent adults. The legislation was proposed by San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe to ease the burden for these individuals, who after being victimized must then cope with the challenges of testifying multiple times and in multiple locations against a suspected serial perpetrator.

SB 326, requires inspections at least once every nine years of the exterior elevated elements at existing multi-family dwellings that are common interest developments – developments overseen by homeowners associations, commonly known as HOAs. The bill builds on law established by the senator’s earlier legislation to require inspections of outdoor elevated balconies, stairs and walkways at multi-family apartment buildings and complexes at least once every six years. The legislation was prompted by the collapse of a fifth story balcony at a Berkeley apartment complex in 2015 that killed six people and severely injured seven others.

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