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If Dr. Larry Bedard has his way, Marin General Hospital would become the first acute-care medical center in California to allow patients to openly consume medical marijuana in the hospital.

Patients wouldn’t be allowed to smoke it, since smoking is prohibited. But Bedard, a retired emergency physician at Marin General who now serves on the Marin Healthcare District board, says he knows of no other legally prescribed drug that cannot openly be used by patients in a hospital.

“I know that it happens that it’s being used in the hospital, but it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Bedard said. “It’s kind of wink-and-nod medicine.”

The doctor is taking steps toward bringing it out into the open by introducing a resolution at Tuesday’s board meeting for Marin Healthcare District, which governs Marin General. The resolution, if approved, would direct the hospital’s administrative and medical staff to review and research the clinical and legal implications of using medical marijuana in the hospital and report back to the board.

Bedard initially planned to introduce a resolution to allow patient use in the hospital but stepped back from that last month after the Drug Enforcement Agency declined to remove marijuana from its list of dangerous drugs, keeping it in the same category as such drugs as heroin and LSD.

A 2015 federal budget amendment protects patients, doctors and hospitals from prosecution if they’re complying with state cannabis laws. California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. But Bedard opted to slow down in light of the DEA decision and potential concerns by the hospital’s administration over jeopardizing its federal Medicare and Medi-Cal contracts.

The real changes to the medical marijuana industry won’t happen until Jan. 1, 2018, when the main provisions of the state Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, the package of laws that will regulate virtually every aspect of the cannabis industry, go into effect.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the long-awaited legislation into law in October in anticipation of the potential legalization of recreational marijuana use. Proposition 64, which would allow adults over the age of 21 to legally use the drug for nonmedical purposes, is on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Bedard supports Prop. 64 and even helped write the rebuttal to the opposition to the measure. But he sees the recreational use and medical use of marijuana as two separate issues. He said he has written only one patient recommendation for medical marijuana but believes the plant has benefits for patients.

“I think the fact that 80 percent (of people who have medical cannabis prescriptions) are using a ‘medicinal’ reason to get the use of this as an intoxicant or social lubricant, that does a disservice to the 20 percent who have chronic pain, wasting syndrome,” or other medical reasons, he said.

The California Hospital Association, which opposes Prop. 64, does not keep any information on whether hospitals allow the use of medical marijuana on their campuses, said Jan Emerson-Shea, spokeswoman for the trade group.

State law allows physicians to “recommend” rather than “prescribe” medical marijuana, a distinction that could pose legal problems, Emerson said. “If a hospital is convicted of a federal drug crime, it can no longer receive payment for treating Medicare or Medi-Cal patients,” she said. “If a hospital pharmacy loses its DEA registration, the hospital must close – a hospital is not allowed to legally operate without a pharmacy.”

The humor in a Marin County hospital becoming the first to allow on-campus marijuana use isn’t lost on Bedard. “I just can see it if we approve medicinal cannabis we’re going to be known as Marijuana General Hospital,” he quipped. “My favorite is Marin Ganja Hospital.”

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Marin Hospital Could Be First In State To Allow Medical Marijuana
Author: Victoria Colliver
Contact: San Francisco Chronicle
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Website: San Francisco Chronicle