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California Bill to Allow Medical Cannabis in Hospitals Heads to Governor’s Desk

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The Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act or Ryan’s Law would allow patients in California with serious conditions to use non-smokable medical cannabis inside of hospitals. After receiving approval in California’s Assembly and Senate, Ryan’s Law and a bill regulating smokable hemp products both headed to the governor’s desk, amid a recall election.

If and when it’s signed by the governor, Senate Bill 311 or Ryan’s Law would allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in healthcare facilities. The proposal prohibits patients, however, from inhaling or vaping herbal cannabis products. It also restricts the use of any forms of cannabis in emergency rooms.

Members of the California Assembly and Senate approved legislation and sent a bill to the Governor’s desk to allow the use of medical cannabis products within hospitals and other eligible health care facilities. 

The California State Assembly voted 57-1 to approve the bill on September 9, and the Senate approved the other chamber’s amendments in a 36-1 vote the next day.

The bill was pushed by State Senator Ben Hueso, who has fought to allow cannabis use in medical facilities for terminally ill patients repeatedly. In July, Hueso sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, asking them to provide clarification on whether hospitals in legal cannabis states can allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis without jeopardizing federal funding.

The bill “would require specified types of health care facilities to allow a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, subject to certain restrictions,” it reads. “The bill would require a patient to provide the health care facility with a copy of their medical marijuana card or written documentation that the use of medicinal cannabis is recommended by a physician. The bill would require a health care facility to reasonably restrict the manner in which a patient stores and uses medicinal cannabis to ensure the safety of other patients, guests, and employees of the health care facility, compliance with other state laws, and the safe operations of the health care facility.”

Lawmakers approved a similar bill in 2019, but it was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom who expressed concerns that it create a conflict between federal and state law. 

Representatives from both HHS and the governor’s office have recently reached out to Hueso to say they’re continuing to look into the matter.

The senator’s legislation was partly inspired by the experience of a father whose son died from cancer and was initially denied access to cannabis at a California hospital. Jim Bartell did eventually find a facility that agreed to allow the treatment, and he has said his son’s quality of life improved dramatically in those last days.

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable claims that they’ve reached an agreement and expect Governor Newsom to sign the hemp-derived CBD bill. “We’re excited to report that a final deal has been reached with Governor Gavin Newsom to move to final passage of AB 45, our long term effort to explicitly permit the retail sale of hemp-derived extracts such as CBD in California,” a U.S Hemp Roundtable release reads. However, it’s unclear if the governor will sign Ryan’s Law, as he vetoed similar legislation earlier due to confusion about federal implications.

AB 45 would allow the sale of hemp-derived CBD extracts outside of licensed cannabis dispensaries. The Senate in a 29-2 vote on Wednesday. The Assembly concurred with amendments and gave final passage to the bill in a 56-3 vote on Thursday.





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