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Legal issues parents and caregivers should know

Under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, hemp, and its extracts, including CBD, are legal at the federal level. However, state laws vary, and marijuana or cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance. State laws generally discourage the use of cannabinoids by minors -meaning parents who expose their young may face legal backlash.

CBD’s excellent safety profile and medicinal qualities offer numerous benefits for minors and adults living with autism. But how does one legally access it? Can a child use medical marijuana at home or school?

Before you use medical marijuana or CBD for autism or other ailments, it is vital to (1) educate yourself on the risk cannabinoids pose to you, your young, and your pets. (2) check state laws. Federal and state laws may conflict. 

CBD for autism legal issues: Quick take. 

  • It is against the law to expose or give marijuana and its extracts to a minor without a medical marijuana card or approval from a care provider.
  • To access CBD or medical marijuana, the child must have a qualifying condition.
  • Autism is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.
  • Some states allow minors to use medical marijuana on school grounds. 
  • Child protective services may use federal laws to limit or terminate parental rights if you expose your child to cannabis. 
  • If a qualifying child gives or exposes another child to marijuana, it can lead to criminal or civil troubles. If your child qualifies, it is safer for the parent or a school nurse to administer medical marijuana if the state laws allow it. 
  • A child who has a medical marijuana card may use medical marijuana under the supervision of a parent, school nurse, or other care providers. 

In short, if you are a parent, make sure that your child does not sell, give, or expose medical marijuana to other children. We recommend always keeping your child’s prescription under your care to avoid potential legal problems.

Can I give my autistic child medical marijuana or CBD?

Giving marijuana or cannabinoids to a child may result in several legal issues, including endangerment, neglect, or in some states contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Remember, cannabis is a Schedule 1 substance, meaning to the state and federal government, it offers no medical benefits and has the potential for abuse.

What about medical marijuana?

For a child to legally access medical marijuana, they must have a qualifying condition and a recommendation from a medical practitioner. State laws may also require a medical marijuana card to purchase medical marijuana.

How do you get a medical marijuana card for your autistic child?

The procedure for accessing medical marijuana/CBD slightly differs from state to state. The commonality is:

  • You will need evidence of a qualifying condition. Your state may require a CT scan, X-rays, and the child’s medical records. You may get copies of said records from your child’s GP.
  • The child, parent, or legal guardian may require identification, which could be a passport, military ID, driver’s license, and so on. 

For instance, if you are in Arizona, Ariz. Admin Code 9-17-202 requires underage applicants to have a designated caregiver (at least 21) and approval from a medical practitioner. 

Note that state and federal laws penalize exposure of cannabis to minors, meaning lack of awareness of the laws and failure to obey them are not defenses. Because of that, it is in your best legal interest to ensure that you comply with local or state laws before giving your child CBD or medical marijuana.

Is autism a qualifying condition for CBD or medical marijuana?

It depends on state laws. 

Currently, there are at least 19 states that list autism as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. 

Can you lose custodial rights if you use medical marijuana around your kids? 

Having a medical marijuana card does not mean that you can smoke or use cannabis around minors. What is vital to remember is that in states where medical marijuana is legal, child protective services may use Federal prohibitions to remove children from under your care.

As a general rule, one should not smoke or use cannabis around minors, and minors should not have access to your stash. 

Depending on state law, one may be charged with child endangerment, which in some states can be used to limit or terminate parental rights.

What to remember.

  • If you run a daycare or work in environments where minors congregate, possession or use of cannabis may lead to child endangerment or other charges depending on state laws. Marijuana paraphernalia may also lead to charges. 

Can minors with autism use CBD/medical marijuana in school?

Under state laws, you may or may not. But there are conditions as listed in the table below.

State.Conditions for using medical marijuana in school.
California. The child must have a valid recommendation, and the person administering must be a primary caregiver or parent. The child cannot administer to -self. 
New Jersey. Minors may self-administer, medical marijuana in school. 
Colorado.Nurses may administer medical cannabis to minors with permission from parents or primary caregivers.
Delaware.You may use medical cannabis on school grounds if you have a valid medical marijuana card/certificate.
New MexicoStudents may access medical marijuana in school, but cannot store it on school grounds. A parent or caregiver must bring or store it.
New York  Students may self-administer medical marijuana in school. 
Florida. It depends on the school district regulations. Parents or caregivers may or may not administer medical cannabis on school grounds. 
Illinois Students may self-administer medical marijuana on condition that they do not disrupt the learning environment. 
Maryland.Medical cannabis must be administered by an elected school employee. Minors are not allowed to self-administer.

In short, in the states listed above, you may use medical marijuana on school grounds if (1) a parent, school employee, or nurse administers it. (2) avoid storing marijuana in school, especially in large quantities. 

It is worth noting that regulations change, meaning before you consider it, check your child’s school’s district requirements or regulations.

If the law allows you to use medical marijuana in school, you must not:

  • Expose or sell CBD or marijuana to other minors.
  • You should not disrupt the learning environment.