Father calls medical marijuana in schools a step in the right direction

Seth Hyman says medical marijuana helped improved quality of life for 13-year-old Rebecca who suffers uncontrollable seizures. (Hyman Family)

The deadline is quickly approaching for school districts across the state to implement a policy on students using medical marijuana on campus.

Martin County school officials are set to review their policy Tuesday evening.

And while the idea of children having access to medical marijuana on school grounds may seem unreasonable to some parents, for other families like Seth Hyman’s it can be a matter of life and death.

Hyman says every day is a challenge.

“I could wake up one morning and my child may not be alive. That’s what I live with. My calls to my wife aren’t, ‘Hey honey, how was your day, what’s going on, what’s new and exciting?’ My calls are always, ‘How is Rebecca today? How many seizures has she had? Is she still at school?’”

Hyman’s 13-year-old daughter Rebecca was born with a severe genetic disorder.

“She’s unable to walk, talk, she is neurologically, visually and hearing impaired and she also has a feeding tube,” he said. “Eighty-some percent of the children with this genetic disorder have intractable epilepsy which means seizures that cannot be controlled by traditional medications.”

He says medical marijuana isn’t a cure for his daughter, but it has made a significant difference when it comes to her quality of life.

“My daughter still has seizures every day, many seizures every day. But if you’re having over 100 seizures a day but now you’re down to 10 or 20 it’s still helping.”

In 2017, Florida passed a law requiring all school districts to outline their policy regarding medical marijuana use on campus by December 31

“There are a lot of do’s and don’ts. There are a lot of loopholes. It’s not very clear. Some school districts are saying, their policy is, ‘Okay, our policy is we won’t allow it.’ That’s a policy.”

Hyman worked closely with Broward School officials to implement their policy back in 2018. They were the first district in the state to do so and since then many districts have based their policies off Broward’s.

There, only a parent or caregiver can administer the medical marijuana. School employees cannot handle the drug and it can only be administered at a location designated by the school’s principal.

While it’s a step in the right direction, Hyman says it’s still not practical for kids like Rebecca with serious medical conditions,

“If you’re having a seizure, you’re in a dire situation. You can’t wait to be checked out, go to an office, unlock the medicine and then give it to you. How can a patient have access to an emergency rescue medicine to administer immediately, when they don’t have access to it?”

As of now, Palm Beach County, Okeechobee County and St. Lucie County Schools already implemented their policies.

Martin County School officials will discuss their policy Tuesday evening then make a final vote next month.

Indian River County School officials are also awaiting final approval.