Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado is taking a second look at the way it handles cannabis after facing pressure from local media and the community. 11 News reports that the hospital is reviewing its policy when adult-use or medical cannabis is found due to an incident that took place several months ago. Currently, hospital staff will destroy the cannabis unless a family member is immediately present to take the cannabis home.
Mother Lori Brochhagen, who lives in Chaffee County, said she had just learned that her son serving in the U.S. Marines had taken his own life when she was taken to the hospital several months ago. She was under extreme stress and believed she was having a heart attack. Brochhagen was helicoptered to the hospital, but then she was surprised to face a security search through all of her belongings.
“They brought me out in a gurney. They pulled me in the door and there were two security guards,” Brochhagen told 11 News.
The security guards allegedly focused on taking away the cannabis they found in her bag.
“I was holding onto my bag, they pulled it out of my arms. I tried to pull it back. They took it from me and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I didn’t know what was going on. I’ve never been treated that way in a hospital before,” Brochhagen said.
She felt more like a criminal than someone getting care at a hospital, and had about a gram of weed out of sight in a satchel.
“She (the security guard) started going through things and she pulled out a satchel. I had a little pipe, maybe about a gram of cannabis and a lighter, and she held it up to everybody and was saying, ‘Look what we got,’” Brochhagen added.
“Parkview was made aware of the patient’s concerns on January 13, 2023, 7 months following the patient’s admission to Parkview. Parkview has reached out on a number of occasions via phone, email, and written letters to help resolve the patient’s questions and concerns.
According to the Parkview Visitor policy, page 26, Medications from Home: “The nurse must be informed if a patient brings medication from home with them to the hospital…Prescribed medical and recreational marijuana are not permitted to be brought to the hospital. Arrangements should be made for a family member to take it home. If no arrangements are made, it will be destroyed.”
Parkview is currently in the process of reviewing this policy.
Most hospitals enact strict cannabis policies likely because they fear losing federal funding as they are accredited through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services and observe FDA rules. But hospital workers and security staff aren’t exactly there to enforce the law.
State laws are slowly changing to allow non-smokable forms of medical cannabis in some cases.
A few states have taken measures to allow some forms of medical cannabis in hospitals. In California, patients with certain conditions are allowed to take medical cannabis into hospitals, however certain forms are restricted.
California’s approved Senate Bill 311 or Ryan’s Law allows terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in health care 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.