Governor Newsom Signs Jojo’s Act to Aid Severely Disabled Students Who Rely on Medicinal Cannabis to Attend School

October 10, 2019

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – October 11, 2019
Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov

Governor Newsom Signs Jojo’s Act to Aid Severely Disabled Students Who Rely on Medicinal Cannabis to Attend School

SB 223 by Senator Jerry Hill Clears the Way for Parents to Administer the Medicine to Their Child Without Leaving Campus

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed Jojo’s Act on Wednesday, a boon for parents of severely disabled students who rely on medicinal cannabis to attend school. Senate Bill 223 enables parents to administer their child’s dose on K-12 campuses under strict rules and conditions as long as their school district allows it.

“By signing Jojo’s Act, Governor Newsom has lifted barriers for students with severe medical disabilities for whom medicinal cannabis is the only medication that works,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, who authored the legislation.

While state law has long permitted the use of medicinal cannabis, no cannabis of any kind is allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.

Named for a South San Francisco teenager, Jojo’s Act enables 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 requirements. They include 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.

On January 1, when Jojo’s Act takes effect, California will join eight states – Washington, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois and New Mexico – that already allow medicinal cannabis to be used at K-12 schools. None of the eight 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 and 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 said.

“We need to be clear about what SB 223 allows and how important it is for families who have had to remove their children from campus, take them 1,000 feet away, give them their medicinal cannabis and then return them to school again,” Senator Hill added.

“Medicinal cannabis for children is not recreational cannabis for adults. It’s not buds, it’s not plants, it’s not joints, and it’s not a substance that provides a high. For children who rely on regular doses each day to prevent seizures, medicinal cannabis enables them to attend school and have an educational experience with their peers. I thank the governor for his support of Jojo’s Act as well as my colleagues in the Senate and in the Assembly, where Assemblymember Christy Smith championed SB 223.”

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.

In addition to Jojo’s Act, Governor Newsom signed two other bills by Senator Hill this week:

SB 537Workers Compensation Reform. SB 537 increases transparency and equity in the workers’ compensation system by requiring, effective July 1, 2021, the public posting of medical provider information, as the federal government does with Medicare. The bill also prohibits entities from changing a medical provider’s treatment plan and billing codes without consulting the provider. The legislation is the product of several reform efforts by a variety of stakeholders. It aims to reduce medical disputes and improve the operation of medical provider networks. Doing both is critical to ensure that injured workers receive appropriate medical care without impediments or delay. For the effective dates of the various provisions of the legislation, please see the bill text linked here. Governor Newsom signed SB 537 on Tuesday.

SB 222Preventing Housing Discrimination Against Veterans and Military Personnel. SB 222 protects veterans and military personnel from housing discrimination and ensures that landlords cannot deny homeless veterans housing simply because they receive a rental assistance voucher. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, veterans and military personnel are a protected class regarding employment discrimination, but they are not protected from housing discrimination. SB 222 adds them as a protected class under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act and under other statutes regarding housing discrimination. In addition, the legislation specifies that the rental assistance vouchers provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program are income. In doing so, SB 222 prohibits discrimination against people who use the vouchers to pay for some or all of their rent. Governor Newsom also signed SB 222 on Tuesday. It takes effect January 1, 2020.

Here are the other bills by Senator Hill that Governor Newsom has signed this summer. Unless indicated otherwise, the new laws take effect January 1, 2020:

Senate Bill 39Tobacco Product Packaging in Online Sales. SB 39 imposes stricter age verification requirements for all tobacco products sold online and by mail. The legislation requires tobacco companies to deliver tobacco products in conspicuously marked containers and obtain the signature of the person, 21 or older, who is to receive the delivery before the parcel is handed over.

SB 304Prosecution of Serial Fraud Against the Elderly. SB 304 enables district attorneys to consolidate prosecution against suspects charged in cases of financial fraud against elderly and dependent adults occurring in more than one county. The legislation eases the burden for the fraud victims who otherwise would have to testify against a suspected perpetrator or perpetrators multiple times and in multiple locations as prosecutors try each case.

SB 326Balcony Inspection for HOAs. SB 326 requires that existing multi-family residential common interest developments – the type of condominium developments better known as HOAs – with three or more dwelling units and with balconies, outside stairs, walkways and other load-bearing, elevated exterior elements have a random and statistically significant sample of those elements inspected every nine years by a licensed structural engineer or architect. The first inspections are to be completed by January 1, 2025. For applicable structures for which a building permit application is submitted on or after January 1, 2020, the first inspections are to occur no later than six years after a certificate of occupancy is issued. The new law stems from earlier legislation by Senator Hill in response to the Berkeley balcony tragedy of 2015. The earlier bills established new laws to increase oversight of contractors and require periodic inspections of balconies and other elevated exterior elements at multi-family residential apartment buildings.

SB 550Safety in Utility Restructuring. SB 550 ensures that safety is integral to any merger, acquisition or change of control involving major electric or gas companies; and in sales of public utility assets, the impacts to ratepayers and the workforce must be considered as well. For municipalities seeking to purchase some of the assets of a public utility, SB 550 eases the process by modifying the CPUC review required for the transaction.

SB 699San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water System. SB 699 extends state oversight of San Francisco’s required capital improvement program for the Bay Area regional water system from the current sunset dates of January 1, 2022, to January 1, 2026. SB 699 also extends the ability of the regional water system’s Financing Authority to issue revenue bonds through December 31, 2030.

Committee Bills

SB 778Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirement for Employers. This bill by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee clarifies the deadline for compliance with the anti-harassment training requirement that was laid out in 2018 by SB 1343 (Mitchell). SB 778 also allows employers who were already compliant with the law in 2019 to provide refresher training on a schedule that is consistent with the bill’s two-year timetable. The bill was developed with the support and cooperation of Senator Mitchell and her office and with employer and employee stakeholders to ensure maximum compliance with the training regulations. As chair of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Hill guided this bill through the legislative review process. SB 778 was an urgency bill and took effect immediately upon the governor’s signing on August 30.

SB 782Government Code Clarifications, CalPERS. This bill by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee makes non-controversial administrative amendments to the government code for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. SB 782 clarifies existing law, reorganizes code sections for clarity, corrects outdated references, and makes grammatical and gender-neutral corrections to the code. Senator Hill also guided this bill through the legislative process as the Senate Labor Committee chair. Most of the provisions of SB 782 take effect on January 1, 2020, some are retroactive to January 1, 2019. For specifics, please see the bill text linked here.

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