ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — A new bill in Maryland is being backed by a teenager who said if it weren’t for medical marijuana, he wouldn’t be able to have a life outside of a hospital.
Now, he needs his school to get on board too. Right now, kids with severe illnesses who rely on medical cannabis have to leave school property to use the drugs, but two Senate bills would allow them to stay in school and instead take it in a nurse’s office.READ MORE: Chun Shoots 69 To Lead By 6 At Women's PGA Championship
Formally known as Senate Bills 604 and 605, but fondly referred to as “Connor’s Courage,” had its first hearing in Annapolis on Tuesday.
The bill is named after Connor Sheffield, a junior in high school who suffers from an autoimmune disease called gastrointestinal dysmotility, which keeps him from digesting food properly. He said cannabis is a game-changer.
“Within minutes of taking a drop of cannabis oil, I just felt normal,” Connor said.
Two years ago, Connor was confined to a bed, hooked up to feeding tubes and in terrible pain. As a last-ditch effort, his parents said they opted for cannabis oil.
“For a lot of children, this is all they have, there is no other medication for them to take in order for them to be a normal, functioning child,” said Connor’s dad, Michael Sheffield.
But Connor and other children reliant on medical marijuana aren’t allowed to take the drug at school.READ MORE: Maryland Prepares For Increase In Patients After Roe V. Wade Overturned
“It’s a long process. I miss a lot of school time.” Connor said.
That’s what “Connor’s Courage” is trying to change.
“The only way the kids can access it is if the parents come to school to take the kids off of school grounds. In many cases, these kids eight or 10 hours without access is hugely problematic,” said Brian Feldman, (D) Montgomery County.
Sponsors of the bill said there are specific amendments in place to prevent the use of vaping or smoking marijuana on school campuses.
There are nearly 200 children in Maryland certified to use medical marijuana. If passed, the bill will let them use the drug at school, under the supervision of a school nurse.
Supporters said “Connor’s Courage” would pave the way forward for four-year-old Autumn, who is just beginning her school career. She uses medical cannabis to alleviate symptoms of connective tissue disorder.
“She deserves for her medication to be treated like any other medication is treated,” said Ashley Wittmyer, whose daughter uses medical cannabis.MORE NEWS: Rewards Programs Can Offset Painful Prices At Baltimore Gas Stations
There are two similar bills in the House. This is a bi-partisan effort with both Democratic and Republican leaders sponsoring legislation.