The recent revisions made to the Student Code of Conduct for Aiken County's public schools includes a new item on the list of illicit substances: CBD oils and products.
While CDB products that contain less than 0.3% of 9-delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are legal under South Carolina state law, the Aiken County School Board voted Tuesday that such products would no longer be allowed on school premises.
Aiken County Schools Superintendent King Laurence said the decision to ban CBD is primarily centered on the issue of vaping in schools.
"We have a committee that is made up of administrators, community members, teachers, parents … they had a considerable discussion about CBD," Laurence said. "They recognize there are a lot of uses for it, but the issue that we have is generally with vaping."
The National Institute of Health has stated an "alarming rise" in teen vaping has occurred over the past few years.
Though vaping is banned on Aiken County school property, special attention has been given to THC vaping products after the CDC linked them to the outbreak of a lung illness that peaked last September.
Laurence said the school system does not have a "reliable" test to determine whether vaping products contain illegal levels of THC.
"We have to err on the side of not allowing those products (CBD) at all," Laurence said.
Having CBD products on school property will now result in a level three infraction after the changes made to the Student Code of Conduct were voted into action. This entails a recommendation for alternative placement on first offense and recommendation for expulsion on the second offense.
Studies have shown that CBD oil does have some medical benefits, especially in treating some forms of child epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome – an illness that often doesn't respond to anti-seizure medications. A study from European Journal of Pain showed that CBD, when applied to the skin of animals, could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis.
Many scientists agree that more studies are needed to determine CBD's potential benefits or side effects for treating issues like insomnia, anxiety and pain in humans.
Laurence said the school district would "certainly" work with students who take CBD at the recommendation of a physician for health conditions.
Other substances and medications that are not meant to cause severe intoxication are also banned from schools, Laurence pointed out.
"You wouldn't think Advil would be an illicit substance, but that's not generally allowed for use in schools, either," Laurence said.
Although the school system doesn't have a reliable way of testing for THC, law enforcement does.
Laurence said law enforcement has been called to schools in the past to conduct such tests on students who appeared to be intoxicated or under the influence of illicit substances.
"We’ve had a number of cases where EMS has been called to the school because of students becoming very severely affected by these products (illicit substances)," Laurence said.
However, the Student Code of Conduct is reviewed annually. Changes made this year may not be permanent, Laurence said.
"We revise and review our code of conduct every year," Laurence said. "So, as science changes … that (ban) could change, as well."