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Parents of mmj patients celebrate win in D49, strategize survival under Springs' new plant count 

Cannabiz

Home groan

Clint and Rebecca Lockwood rushed to City Hall when they heard Colorado Springs City Council was about to limit home grows to 12 plants, but Council had already adopted the ordinance. So they went home worried sick about their son, Calvin, who's severely autistic and relies on homemade CBD oil to keep his aggression under control.

Without it, their home is hell. The Lockwoods say that, unmedicated, Calvin won't sleep, sweats, shakes, eats furniture, attacks his younger brother and bashes his head into the wall until he bleeds.

It's been two years since Calvin's last episode. That's when Rebecca dialed in a rotation of 19 different strains, learned a particular extraction method and finally found a treatment for Calvin that brought the entire household into a delicate harmony. Since then, Rebecca became a caregiver — meaning she makes medicine for other sick kids, most of whom are refugees (their families moved here from other states for this medicine).

"I really, really don't want to break my promise to these families," Rebecca says. "But I can't make their meds anymore."

Under Amendment 20, patients can have whatever quantity of marijuana is "medically necessary" — a determination made by his/her doctor. Last year, the General Assembly limited caregivers (who can grow for up to five patients) to 99 plants total. Now, the Springs is among several local jurisdictions capping them at 12 plants per residence, period.

"It feels like we just had the rug pulled out from under us," Rebecca says, adding that buying from a dispensary isn't really viable, given the high price, limited selection and commercial trimming process that knocks terpenes off the bud.

Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler suggested the Lockwoods band together with other families to start a new grow in a non-residential area. "You don't have to stop growing for your child," she told the distraught couple at the podium. "You just need to find an appropriate place to do it."

The issues with that are multiple: The Lockwoods can't afford to purchase commercial or industrial land; Council also just prohibited the issuance of any new licenses for another year; and the DEA has a history of busting such "co-op" grows, even if they are operated by legitimate caregivers.

"It's killing me," Gaebler tells the Indy. She, as well as councilors Bill Murray and Keith King, have expressed openness to creating an exception for families with demonstrated medical need.

But for the Lockwoods, the problem is urgent; they don't have time to wait for a legislative solution. "If something's healing him, I can't just let it go," says Rebecca, who says she's not an activist, let alone a martyr. "This is not a fight I want, but as a parent I can't not fight for him."

She and other caregivers are working to find both a legislative and a judicial reprieve.

click to enlarge MMJ access is critical for families. - ANDRES RODRIGUEZ, CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Andres Rodriguez, Creative Commons
  • MMJ access is critical for families.

Leading the Way

District 49 has become the first school district in Colorado to adopt a policy allowing medical marijuana use on campus. The move comes as a bill requiring districts to do so awaits Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature. But D-49 isn't just getting ahead of the compliance curve. Parents, administrators and school board members have long been working to craft this new policy on their own.

"Ironically, a year-and-a-day ago my son was suspended and I want to say, 'Thank you,'" Jennie Stormes told the D-49 board before its May 12 unanimous vote. A current 11th grader at Sand Creek High School, Jackson "Jax" Stormes suffers from a rare form of epilepsy that caused daily seizures until he started a cannabinoid treatment in 2012. That medication is key to his ability to thrive at school, according to his mother, who inadvertently got him in trouble by packing it in his lunchbox.

Following that incident, Stormes brought the issue to the board's attention. Many community conversations later, the district has arrived at what's been dubbed Jax's Policy, which allows qualifying students to use non-inhalable cannabinoid products — administered by a parent, guardian or caregiver, not by a school nurse — in select locations on school grounds. Permissible forms include oils, tinctures, edible products, patches or lotions.

District spokesman Matt Meister says some of the 40 qualifying students lose more than 2,000 minutes of classroom time a year because they must leave to medicate. He notes D-49 is eager to share expertise with other districts that, per new state law, must adopt such a policy.

With marijuana still classified as a Schedule I drug, some fear the district risks losing federal funding, which stands at about $7 million a year. Precedent in New Jersey — where schools complying with a state law mandating such a policy haven't lost federal support — suggests D-49 will be just fine. But to be safe, a cease-and-desist clause in the policy declares the district would comply with federal guidelines should it be asked.

Both parents and board members expressed mutual gratitude for the work each did that led to the adoption of Jax's Policy, which will take effect in the fall. (Catch up on the year-long community conversation around the issue at D49.org/PolicyPolls.)

  • "If something's healing him, I can't just let it go."

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