EAGLE, Colo. — The first day of school is ripe with rituals from a special breakfast to a new outfit. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without taking the annual back-to-school photo either.
There are too many firsts on a first day to count. For fourth-grader Quintin Lovato, though, one sticks out above the rest.
“It’s the first day of school where Quintin gets to take his cannabis to school,” his mother Hannah Lovato said.
Quintin has epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome. The conditions cause him to suffer multiple seizures per day, debilitating ticks and he wasn’t able to sleep through the night.
In January, the 9-year-old started taking cannabis oil to control his symptoms. It is made from the same plant as marijuana but does not contain THC, which is the component that gets a user high.
“I honestly think if he wasn’t taking cannabis for his seizures and Tourette’s he probably, I don’t know if he’d be going to public school to be honest with you,” Hannah Lovato said.
The boy was struggling just to get through the day.
“Q was so sluggish all the time,” his reading teacher Terry Plain said. “He would come to school not ready to learn at all.”
She says after he started taking CBD oil, the change was “miraculous.”
“He lit up. He was wide-eyed,” Plain said. “He was noticing things. He was engaged in learning.”
For Quintin, there was a major downside though.
“It prevented me from having friends,” he said.
He needs the medication three times a day, including once during the middle of the school day. Under Colorado law, he could only take the dose if his mother picked him up from school to administer it.
“A lot of bullying,” Hannah Lovato said. “Why can’t you go through the school day without your mommy?”
She says they made the tough decision to skip that middle-of-the-day dose, even though Quintin stopped getting better.
“We knew he needed it during the middle of the day because it would wear off,” Plain said.
In spring, Quintin and his family lobbied Colorado state lawmakers to pass a law allowing him to take the medication at school without his mother.
Led by Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle, they came up with Quintin’s Amendment.
The amendment tweaks a law passed in 2017 called Jack’s Law, which allows parents or caregivers to come to school to administer a dose of medical marijuana to a student.
Quintin’s Amendment allows a school nurse or other designated school official to administer the medical marijuana on school property and during field trips.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Quintin’s Amendment into law on June 4.
“I felt like changing the world would help out everyone,” Quintin said. “I think it’s going to help a lot of kids.”
Quintin’s Amendment does not require schools to adopt the policy. Districts have to opt in and school staff have to volunteer to take on the responsibility of administering the cannabis to a student.
Eagle County Schools is the first district in Colorado to incorporate Quintin’s Amendment into its policy.
Plain and two other teachers at Brush Creek Elementary School have agreed to take turns giving Quintin his daily dose.
Plain says she checked to make sure it would not affect her teaching license, but believes it is her duty to give him the medical marijuana because it will help further his education.
“Because I love him. He’s very special. And if someone doesn’t step up to do it, then he will continue to struggle,” Plain said.
The medication is locked in a special safe that requires a fingerprint to open it and is only accessible by Quintin’s mother, three teachers and a school administrator.
He can swing by the nurse’s office for his dose before lunch. From measuring to swallowing, the process takes about a minute.
“It’s going to be life changing,” Hannah Lovato said. “Nobody is even going to know he’s gone for five seconds to take his medicine.”
Quintin says he has already made more friends and is looking forward to feeling more normal.
His favorite subject in school is math and when he grows up, he wants to be a baseball star.