Nine-year-old Krystal Mattis is unable to attend full days at school because she uses cannabis tincture to treat epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder.
Sabrina and Tim Mattis, her parents, told CBS News they want their daughter to receive a full-time education, which up until now she has been unable to do because of her symptoms. In order to attend a full day at school, Sabrina and Tim said Krystal needs a dose of her tincture at lunchtime. The tincture is a mixture of CBD and THC mixed in with some juice.
The school, however, told Sabrina and Tim that Krystal has to consume her medicine away from school property and come back to class afterwards if she wants to use cannabis during the day.
“I feel it’s unfair. It’s unjust,” Sabrina Mattis said to CBS. “She just deserves to be at school a full day and have her medicine like any other kid.”
On top of her regular doctor visits and the various therapies required to treat her disorders, Krystal is nonverbal and uses a device to communicate, according to the CBS article. Sabrina and Tim Mattis said that taking her in and out of school would only serve to further disrupt their daughter’s schedule and unnecessarily confuse her.
“To take her back, that just throws her out of her routine. The chances of her not understanding the whole situation and having discomfort more likely to not have a good rest of the day, as opposed to us just going there administering her dose and leaving and it’s barely an interruption,” Tim said to CBS.
Unable to sway the school and unwilling to take away what they described to CBS as a game changer medication for their daughter, Sabrina and Tim Mattis opted to keep Krystal in class for half-days. However, their fight would continue a bit higher up in the Minnesota state government. Sabrina reached out to Minnesota DFL Rep. Zack Stephenson, who authored the adult-use cannabis bill which was just recently passed in the state of Minnesota.
Rep. Stephenson told CBS he spoke with the family and told them an exemption exists to the adult-use cannabis statute in Minnesota state law for using medical cannabis on school grounds as long as it was not ingested through smoking or vaporization, the language of which CBS said they emailed to Krystal’s school district asking for comment but they only received a brief statement saying that the district “cannot comment on a student’s medical interactions with our schools.” The district cited data privacy laws which almost all American educators, doctors and social workers are universally bound by.
Rep. Stephenson also said that keeping the Minnesota medical cannabis program intact would remain a top priority for him while helping to write and draft laws about Minnesota’s blooming adult-use market, saying the following:
“There is a strong distinction between medical and adult-use cannabis,” Rep. Stephenson said to CBS.
According to the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Dashboard, the Minnesota medical cannabis program currently has a little over 18,000 participants which include 452 patients between the ages of five and 17. The vast majority of Minnesota medical patients use cannabis to treat chronic pain (59.3%) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (32.3%) but the next most reported use is for severe and persistent muscle spasm disorders like epilepsy with 2,217 patients statewide. Another 802 Minnesota patients use cannabis to treat autism spectrum disorder.
The Mattis’ fight will continue as the school district has yet to change their decision regarding Krystal. As cannabis legislation progresses state by state, individual cases like this will undoubtedly be making headlines a bit more often and the line between patient’s rights and illegal activity will undoubtedly continue to blur while legislation at both the state and federal level attempts to rewrite and undo decades of cannabis prohibition laws.
“We hope to bring justice for children on medical cannabis, so they can be allowed to take their medicine at school, just the same as any other child in the state of Minnesota. That’s what we’re hoping,” Sabrina said to CBS.