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FAMU Medical Cannabis Research Program Planning MMJ Curriculum For K-12

Florida A&M University’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative is developing a pilot program to teach K-12 students about medicinal cannabis. The program is being planned to start at the University’s developmental research school.

FAMU’s medical marijuana research and education wing was created by the state through grant funding to teach minority communities about cannabis, in its legal and illegal forms. On Thursday, interim director Patricia Green-Powell told the Senate Appropriations Committee the program intends to bring that education to the classroom.

“We have initiated the development of a pilot program that will train teachers in K-12 settings,” Green-Powell said.

The plan, according to Green-Powell, is to start the pilot at FAMU Developmental Research School. It’s one of a handful in the state that functions as its own district.

“We know from the research that was conducted by the Pew Charitable Foundation, 2.9 million children are living with grandparents,” Green-Powell said. “Grandparents – not saying all of them – perhaps may use medical marijuana. They’re in the care of their children. And if a child asks, grandmamma, granddaddy, what’s that?”

Green-Powell says providing a framework for teachers, who students know and feel comfortable around, would be more effective than bringing speakers into schools.

“The classroom is a safe haven for students. If a teacher can have these conversations in the comfort of their own classroom, where the climate and culture helps the students to understand what’s being taught, it’s a lot less invasive than having someone come into that classroom,” Green-Powell said.

As lawmakers heard Green-Powell’s update, she also faced questions from Senator Audrey Gibson about a Politico report this week. It details the program spending roughly a quarter of a million dollars more than was reported to the Department of Health months ago in administrative costs. Green-Powell offered this explanation in response:

“What you will see is salaries that have been dispersed – every two weeks individuals are paid, and then you will see what has been encumbered up until June 30 of 2020, and that is for personnel,” Green-Powell told Gibson.

Gibson said she had not heard of any encumbered payments, and told Green-Powell she will be talking to program heads further to learn more.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.