But the law doesn’t allow patients to smoke or vape cannabis. And hospitals will not be required to provide or dispense it, so the patients’ family or friends will need to supply the medicine.
The legislation was nicknamed “Ryan’s Law” in memory of Ryan Bartell, a US Coast Guard veteran who died from pancreatic cancer in 2018. During his final weeks in the hospital, doctors prescribed morphine and fentanyl for his pain, which rendered him unconscious and unable to communicate with visitors. His family attempted to convince doctors to switch his medication from opioids to medical cannabis so he could remain awake, but the hospital refused to allow cannabis in their facility – despite the fact that medical cannabis had been legal in California since 1996.
Ben Hueso, the CA state senator who sponsored the bill, put it this way:
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.
The hospital’s position was that since cannabis was – and still is – illegal under federal law, if they permitted its use they risked losing their federal funding.
But the hospital was wrong. Hueso contacted the relevant federal authority who told him they had never pulled funding from any healthcare facility that allowed medical cannabis use. And so Ryan’s Law was passed.
But that still leaves 47 states whose hospitals don’t permit their patients to use medical cannabis.
If you want to see how cruel this can play out in the real world, take a look at the brief video, above, where three cops ransacked the hospital room of a terminally ill cancer patient because he had taken a cannabis pill to ease his pain.