What You Need To Know
- Brevard County teacher Allison Enright has dealt with chronic illness and pain for 20 years
- She started using medical marijuana, which she said helped get her life and career back
- When she disclosed her use of medical marijuana, though, the school district fired her for violating policy
After teaching for more than 20 years, chronic illnesses and pain caused Allison Enright to leave the profession she loved.
“Ended up on leg braces, forearm crutches and in a wheelchair for over a decade … I was told I would never walk or work again,” she said.
But then a few years after moving to Florida, she says medical marijuana gave her life and career back.
“I’m healthier than I’ve been in decades … I have my energy, my enthusiasm for life, you know, and it’s made me a better teacher of course, when you have that energy,” she said.
But In February Enright was shoved by a student at Space Coast Junior/Senior High where she teaches.
Per district policy she had to get a drug test, so she disclosed she used medical marijuana.
That violates the district’s drug free workplace policy, so the superintendent recommended firing her; which the board approved in a 3 to 2 vote.
But Enright says she thought she was following the policy because medical marijuana is legal in Florida.
“The two ways to break the policy is by using illegal drugs, or by abusing legal drugs, I’m doing neither,” she said.
The confusion comes because while it’s legal in Florida for medical use, the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal substance.
Board members said they worried if they didn’t fire her it would impact the district’s federal funding.
But Brevard County Public Schools allows students to use medical marijuana after they were directed to create a policy by the state.
That, teacher’s union vice president Vanessa Skipper said, means the district’s staff policy is outdated.
“So really there’s no excuse for not having a policy for medical marijuana for employee use,” Skipper said.
School Board member Matthew Susin — who fought to let Enright keep her job — agrees.
He’s now planning to push the School Board to update its drug policy through workshops and training.
“Our teachers are our No. 1 essential for the next generation, and if we’re sitting there losing one to that, let’s fix it so we don’t lose more,” he said.
Susin said he plans to reach out to federal authorities for clarification.
Enright hopes to get her job back at a hearing soon to be scheduled before the School Board.
But more importantly she hopes this will bring change for teachers everywhere.
“Nobody should have to, as I said, choose between their health and their job,” Enright said.