California: Governor signs bill allowing medical cannabis use in hospitals

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Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a law providing for the use of medical cannabis products in hospitals and other authorized health care facilities.

Senate Bill 311 (a / k / a Ryan’s Law) provides for “the use of medicinal cannabis by a terminally ill patient within” [a] Hospital. “The proposal prohibits patients from inhaling or vaporizing herbal cannabis products and restricts the use of all forms of cannabis in emergency rooms.

Senator Hueso, the main sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “It is inconceivable to me that in a state where medical cannabis was legalized more than 25 years ago, those who suffer most deeply are those in our state’s health facilities being treated, do not have access to this proven, effective and prescribed treatment. Instead, terminally ill patients in California health facilities are given heavy opiates that rob them of their precious last moments with family and friends. This is a simple but crucial step that will bring relief, compassion, and dignity to terminally ill Californians. “

California NORML Assistant Director Ellen Komp said, “Federal laws and various industry regulations continue to impede consumers’ rights to use medical and recreational marijuana, in California and elsewhere. Cal NORML continues to advocate the right of employees and patients to use cannabis safely and effectively. Cal NORML supporters sent 750 letters to Governor Newsom on SB 311 via our action alert.

Legislature passed a similar bill in 2019, but Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed it on concerns that it would “create significant conflict between federal and state law.” In July, the bill’s proponent penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Health, inquiring whether allowing such use on hospital grounds could jeopardize federal funding for the facilities.

To date, a handful of states – including Connecticut and Maine – have passed laws that specifically allow the use of appropriate cannabis products by hospital patients in certain circumstances.

The full text of the law can be found here.

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