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California Now Allows Medical Cannabis in Hospitals

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A new law in California that allows terminally ill patients to receive medical cannabis in hospitals took effect on January 1, the North Bay Business Journal reports. “The Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act,” or “Ryan’s Law,” was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in September.

Under the law, smoking or vaping cannabis in hospitals is not allowed. Additionally, there are protections in the law for hospitals and caregivers who may be concerned about the conflict the bill has with federal law, where cannabis remains illegal as a Schedule I narcotic, according to the report.

These conflicts have led to wariness from hospital executives and other healthcare professionals. Jan Emerson-Shea, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, told the Journal the organization was “opposed to it at first,” describing the issue as a “conundrum for hospitals” rather than an issue of federal law or efficacy.

“[Hospitals are] required to be in compliance with federal law (under) Medicare regulations.” Jan Emerson-Shea via the Journal

Although the bill’s sponsor Sen. Ben Hueso (D) is working on a “clean up bill” and included a “safe harbor” provision in the original legislation, which allows a hospital to immediately suspend the program if any federal intervention was suspected, it is unclear how many hospitals and healthcare facilities will sign onto the program. Deborah Pacyna, a spokesperson for the California Association of Health Facilities, told the Journal that “no one will move forward” until there is further clarification.

Hueso believes the risk of federal intervention is ” little to none” and healthcare facilities “have the necessary authority to implement” the bill.

The legislation was named after Ryan Bartell, who died of pancreatic cancer. His father, Jim Bartell, began lobbying for the change after he saw how much cannabis had improved his son’s end of life. Bartell hopes the new law will help “millions of families.”

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