Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation into law providing for the use of medical cannabis products within hospitals and other eligible health care facilities.

Senate Bill 311 (a/k/a Ryan’s Law) provides for “a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within [a] health care facility.” The proposal prohibits patients from either inhaling or vaping herbal cannabis products, and restricts the use of any forms of cannabis in emergency rooms.

Senator Hueso, the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement, “It is inconceivable to me that, in a state where medical cannabis was legalized more than 25 years ago, those in deepest suffering receiving treatment in our state’s healthcare facilities cannot access this proven, effective, and prescribed treatment. Instead, terminally-ill patients in California healthcare facilities are given heavy opiates that rob them of their precious last moments with family and friends. This is a simple, yet critical, move that will provide relief, compassion and dignity to terminally-ill Californians.”

California NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp said, “Federal law and various industry regulations continue to impede consumers’ rights to use medical and recreational marijuana, in California and elsewhere. Cal NORML continues to work towards rights of employees and patients to safely and effectively consume cannabis. Cal NORML supporters sent in 750 letters to Gov. Newsom on SB 311 via our Action Alert.”

Lawmakers passed similar legislation in 2019, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom who expressed concerns that it “would create significant conflicts between federal and state law.” In July, the bill’s sponsor drafted a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services to inquire whether permitting such use on hospital grounds could jeopardize facilities’ federal funding.

To date, a handful of states — including Connecticut and Maine — have enacted legislation explicitly permitting the use of eligible cannabis products for hospitalized patients under certain circumstances.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

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