Schools that allow medical marijuana find the federal government withholding grants

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A report out of Maine suggests that the federal government is trying to exert control over states’ rights

The fact that the federal government is starting to punish educational institutions that allow students to access medical marijuana might be a step back for the sector. According to what Maine’s Education Department recently announced, it won’t be eligible anymore for certain federal funds to support mental health programs due to this reason. This was a decision made by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which has rolled out, in complete silence, a new policy that negates to both individuals and organizations the option of receiving grants if they will be used to give a treatment with cannabis (directly or indirectly).

The agency continued by saying that federal funds cannot be destined to institutions that provide or allow “marijuana use for the purposes of treating substance use or mental disorders.” This basically means that those $3.3 million worth of school grants that were already approved for Maine are being compromised by a small number of students who are using medical marijuana. The agency is threatening to undermine school education programs that are specifically meant to support mental health and substance misuse prevention programs for all students.

Pender Makin, Maine’s Education Commissioner, sent a letter to Superintendent Deb Alden on May 6 to inform her of the state’s ineligibility to get funding “because of our state’s medical marijuana law, which requires schools to allow students who have written certification from their medical provider indicating their need for medical marijuana to receive such treatment while at school.” The commissioner added that “SAMHSA has a new requirement starting in Year 3 requiring recipients of Aware grants to guarantee that funding will not be provided to organizations who [sic] permit the use of marijuana for the treatment of mental illness or of substance use disorder.”