Allison Enright, a language arts teacher for the past 35 years, was fired by Florida’s Space Coast Junior/Senior High School last month because she uses medical cannabis (MC) to treat her chronic pain. A pain so debilitating that she was often confined to a wheelchair – until she switched to MC.
Florida legalized MC in 2016 and put in place stringent guidelines: A patient has to be seen by a qualifying physician and be diagnosed with one of twelve serious qualifying medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, MS, or, in Allison’s case, “Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition.” Once qualified, a patient is entered into a medical cannabis registry, given a patient ID card, and is then allowed to buy her doctor recommended “approved order” of MC at a licensed MC dispensary.
Allison did all of that and for good reason: to get off of opioids, which she had been prescribed for her chronic pain. But as we now know, opioids come with a cost: they risk overdose and death, addiction, poor quality of life, and constipation. Indeed, because of an epidemic of some 500,000 opioid overdose deaths in the US since 1999, the government declared a Public Health Emergency.
Notwithstanding Allison’s sober, wise, medically guided, and lawful decision, the school she worked for and then the School Board she appealed her case to, decided she was, after 35 years of exemplary teaching – “she’s a darn good teacher” — no longer fit to teach, because of the possibility that her MC use would disqualify the school district she worked for from receiving federal funding.
The school’s reasoning is based on the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act which (still) outlaws cannabis. And from this fact alone they assume that in order to qualify for federal funding (1) they must have a drug-free workplace, whatever that means, and (2) Allison’s state-sanctioned therapeutic use of MC would somehow constitute a violation of their ill-defined self-imposed concept of a drug-free workplace.
There’s something else: In 2019 the school district adopted a policy allowing students to use MC – but admit they forgot to include teachers.
That’s not all they forgot – the November election ushered in a new Administration intent on reforming cannabis laws. As senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said a few days ago, “I will keep working in the Senate to end the federal prohibition on marijuana and undo the damage of the War on Drugs.” That comes on the heels of a number of pro-cannabis bills passed in the House this past December, most notably, The MORE Act, which would decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Importantly, then-senator and current Vice President Kamala Harris was the sponsor of the senate’s version of the bill.
Given the winds of change do we really think a Biden administration would withhold educational funding to the Brevard School District because of Allison Enright? Listen to her plea to the school board (above photo) in her failed effort to be reinstated and judge for yourself:
I want to make it clear: I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke pot. I don’t get high. … I love teaching. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I have been at a loss without my students and colleagues. Space Coast high is my family, and I want to go back. Please, let me go back home …
No one should have to chose between their health and their job.