The federal government is withholding $3.3 million from Maine for mental health programs for children because the state allows students to use medical cannabis, the Sun Journal reports. The state won the funds in 2018 as part of a five-year grant for Maine-AWARE – a program to bolster social service infrastructure to support student mental health services in three of the state’s districts.
Maine received the funding for the first two years, but it was cut off due to Trump Administration policies that remove some funding for states that allow students to access medical cannabis. It’s unclear whether the changes will impact other grants received by Maine or how the rules may affect other states with legal cannabis programs.
Pender Makin, the state commissioner of education, told the Sun Journal that officials have an obligation under the medical cannabis law to provide access to children if they “have written certification from their medical provider indicating their need for medical marijuana to receive such treatment while at school.”
A research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics last year suggested that Maine had the highest rate in the country of children diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder. More than 25 percent of Maine children 6 to 17-years-old had at least one of the disorders while about half of them received no professional treatment or counseling.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the Health and Human Services agency, said the funds are meant for programs that focus on “partnerships and collaboration between state and local systems to promote the healthy development of school-aged youth and prevent youth violence.”
The Maine-AWARE initiative is meant to ensure all students have access to evidence-based social-emotional learning strategies, positive behavioral interventions, and mental health screenings.
In all, 33 states allow medical cannabis access. According to pro-cannabis organization Americans for Safe Access, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington allow students to use legally recommended cannabis on campus, along with Oklahoma City, but not the entire state of Oklahoma.
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