Breaking Barriers in the Classroom

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A Luzerne County mother says she is on a mission to help other families who may be considering the use of medical marijuana for themselves or a loved one.

      The use of medical marijuana is a controversial issue. The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick has our story.

Christina Tompkins walks into the Hazleton Area Elementary-Middle School. it is part of her daily routine. She is here to administer medical marijuana to her 10-year-old daughter Juliann a fourth-grader at the school.

“She has a rare genetic fatal disorder Cockayne syndrome. It’s one of a couple hundred diagnosed in the world. It affects pretty much everybody organ you could think of. She is sensitive to sunlight so her glasses tint. She has to have a hat and sunglasses at all times. She can’t maintain her body temperature so she has to be in a very controlled climate.” Christina explains,

And that’s why being able to administer medical marijuana inside the nurse’s station in the school is a very big deal …up until a few months ago. She had to take her daughter out of the school to a location across the street to give her the medicine..

“Now swallow. Show them how you swallow.. Yeah!”  Christina encourages Juliann.

“At first we didn’t know how it will help so we were having a problem with here which is her tremors. She almost had Parkinson’s like tremors where she couldn’t even do a simple task.”

She approached school district officials to allow her to give the medicine inside the school.

“It’s something that hasn’t been on our radar for a while. All of a sudden we have students who need this type of medication to help them get through the day,” said Brian Uplinger, Superintendent Hazleton Area School District.

 Superintendent Brian Uplinger–along with the school board– and guidance from the Pennsylvania Health Department. Set up a policy that allows families–like the Tompkins– to administer medical marijuana inside the school. Under a controlled environment.

“Our policy says there are certain things that parents can and cannot do. Nothing can be left here throughout the course of the day. They can bring it in and administer it and take all of the leftovers off-campus to home.” Noted Uplinger

“So do I think it has helped her..absolutely when the tremors are gone or not as prominent.”

Tompkins says she hopes to remove the stigma that often comes with using medical marijuana.

“It’s about awareness about education to others. If we can help one family that’s a big accomplishment in or books. It’s not just for Juliann it’s for other families who don’t know who to turn to or how to go about the process.”

State Senator John Yudichak says it is still a work in progress and the state may have to modify that process moving forward. ..

“I supported the measure in large part because of the opportunity that medical cannabis has in reducing seizure in young children.”

Learn more about the Medical Marijuana guidelines in PA Click Here

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