A suburban sixth grader will be allowed to take her medically-prescribed marijuana in school without fear of getting herself or the school employees in trouble with the law.
Ashley Surin, 11, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two years old. Her parents said she beat the leukemia, but some of Ashley’s chemotherapy treatments eventually led to her having seizures that continue to this day. The family said Ashley is now being prescribed medical marijuana. The cannabis, combined with a special diet, are helping Ashley lead a better life, according to her mother.
While medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, it is against the law for students to use it in school or have school nurses administer it.
Her parents, Jim and Maureen Surin, filed a lawsuit in federal court against Schaumburg School District 54 and the State of Illinois to allow Ashley to use cannabis in school to treat her seizures.
“That’s all we wanted was for her to be back in school with her friends on her diet, on her medicine, and just go on with her 11-year-old like,” said Maureen Surin.
The school district said it had concerns that its employees could face penalties for helping Ashley with her treatments. However, it did not take long for the Illinois Attorney General’s office to assure the school district that it could assist Ashley’s medical needs without penalty.
A federal judge heard from all parties Friday morning and approved a temporary agreement to allow Ashley to receive medical cannabis at her school.
A lawyer for the school district said Schaumburg District #54 owes a debt of gratitude to Ashley’s family for bringing the issue to light.
“The school would like to see a legislative change so that not just Ashley could benefit from this today, but other students can,” said school district attorney Darcy Kriha.
The family agrees. They said the state’s current medical marijuana laws do not meet reality.
“I hope it’s going to help other kids down the road that need to take cannabis in school for another disease that they need to reverse or treat,” Surin said.
Ashley has missed several weeks of school, according to her parents. However, the agreement will allow her to return to school next Tuesday.
Lawyers for the school district and Attorney General’s Office are expected to meet back in court next week to work on a longer-term approval plan for Ashley and the school.