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Feds To Withdraw Mental Health Grants From Schools Allowing Medical Marijuana

Maine law states students can consume medical marijuana on campus with a prescription, which caused conflict with federal funding.

A 2019 JAMA Pediatrics analysis found that more than 1 in 4 Maine children were diagnosed with at least one mental disorder, the highest rate in the country. The state’s Department of Education announced earlier this month that the federal government will cut off funding dedicated to youth mental health program because of Maine’s medical marijuana policy.

In 2018, Maine won a five-year federal grant designed to boost social service infrastructures supporting student mental health. The grant provided the program, called Maine-AWARE, $1.1 million in annual funding. Maine received $2.2 million in the past two years and spent the money appropriately. According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, the feds informed the state’s Education Department the rest of the funding will now be cut off.

As Maine’s state commissioner of education Pender Makin wrote in an email, state law allows students to consume medical marijuana on campus if they have a medical prescription. Other states with legal medical cannabis feature similar rules. Typically, these programs, including Maine’s, exclude the use of smokable marijuana.

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Makin explained the conflict in a May 6 email to a superintendent that funding for Maine AWARE had been rescinded “because of our state’s medical marijuana law, which requires schools to allow students who have written certification from their medical provider indicating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.”

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The JAMA Pediatrics study reported that 27.9% of Maine children were diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or attention deficit disorder. According to researchers, about half of children nationwide with at least one mental disorder did not receive necessary treatment or attention from a medical professional.

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Donald Trump stated early in his term he supported states’ rights to marijuana programs. In recent years, he has shown himself to be unfriendly to legal marijuana efforts. A lawsuit from earlier this month revealed a secret memo that showed the Trump Administration had blocked cannabis research for years. A top spokesman for Trump’s re-election campaign told reporters in February the president will maintain federal policies that keep marijuana illegal.

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