Teenager Genny Barbour is in an unusual situation. Diagnosed with autism and epilepsy, Genny has experienced ongoing emotional and mental difficulties as well as debilitating seizures. Her parents, Roger and Lora, spent years trying every known medical treatment. Genny had been prescribed a startling number of different drugs and even undergone brain surgery, but all those treatments were to no avail.
As a last resort Genny’s doctor prescribed cannabis oil. To the surprise of the family, the treatment worked. Genny is now permitted to use medical marijuana with her mother designated as the caregiver who provides the dosages. Lora Barbour uses an eyedropper to put a small amount of cannabis oil in a glass of soda three times a day. However, the family noticed that while Genny left for school in a positive frame of mind she returned in the afternoon in a considerably different state. It was clear that her medicine was wearing off while she was at school.
Genny’s doctor decided that a fourth dose of medicinal marijuana should be administered during her lunch hour. When her parents informed the school administrators immediately balked. Medical marijuana might be legal in New Jersey, but the schools are still a federally mandated drug free zone and marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The Barbours filed a lawsuit to protest the Maple Shade School District’s decision to ban the use of the cannabis oil on school property. An administrative judge agreed with the district, citing federal law to support his opinion. The family has since appealed that decision, though it appears they have an uphill battle.
In an attempt to reach a compromise, Maple Shade officials offered to allow Genny’s mother to remove her from the school each day to administer the dose. Her father flatly refused the offer, noting that it would be enormously disruptive to his daughter’s day and might cause terrible behavioral difficulties.
Both sides in this fight seem determined to carry the day. Regardless of which party ultimately triumphs, this case is likely to set precedents for students and school districts facing similar situations across the country.