Should Terminally-Ill Patients Be Allowed To Use Marijuana In California Hospitals?

May 3, 2019

The conversation about where people can legally use marijuana has landed on the doorsteps of hospitals with a new bill that could let terminally ill patients use the drug from their deathbeds.  Capital Public Radio’s health care reporter Sammy Caiola [kay-OH-luh] has more

In his final weeks with pancreatic cancer, 42-year-old Ryan Bartell couldn’t do much but sleep. The hospital-issued painkillers just knocked him out.

So he started using marijuana for relief. His father Jim Bartell says it was a game-changer.

“He was awake during the day, pain-free talking to friends, texting, getting visitors.”

Because cannabis is federally illegal, doctors can’t prescribe it or dispense it. But some hospitals allow patients to use their own marijuana. After Ryan’s death, Jim started pushing a bill to require health care facilities to let terminally ill patients with medical marijuana cards use edibles or topicals. They wouldn't be allowed to smoke or vape.

“Dying with dignity and some quality of life in your last few weeks like he was … if they’re dying, they deserve that.”

The bill recently passed the senate health committee. The California Hospital Association is opposing the bill, citing legal concerns.

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