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Hospital Hopes To Be First To Allow MMJ Use

Maureen Meehan

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prescriptions and pot, medical marijuana

An elected member of the board that oversees the Marin General Hospital in Northern California wants the institution to be the first acute-care facility in the country to allow patients to use medical marijuana.

California legalized medical marijuana a decade ago, but federal prohibitions have kept hospitals leery of allowing patients to use the drug.

Dr. Larry Bedard, a retired emergency room physician and a current member of the board of the Marin Healthcare District, says that needs to change.

“I want to have Marin General be the first hospital in California to openly and transparently allow patients to use medical cannabis,” Bedard told the Marine Independent Journal.

Bedard says that pot is still the only legally prescribed drug that patients cannot openly use while in the hospital.

Bedard helped write the rebuttal to the argument against California’s Proposition 64 in the state’s information packet for voters.

Proposition 64 would legalize recreational marijuana in the state and is on the ballot in November. A new poll released Tuesday shows that 58 percent of Californians favor the initiative.

But even the passage of Prop 64 won’t remove the legal peril for hospitals. While Congress has initiated some protections for doctors if they are operating within their particular state’s legalization framework, the DEA could still potentially get nasty.

“If a hospital is convicted of a federal drug crime, it can no longer receive payment for treating Medicare or Medi-Cal patients,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, told SF Gate.

If the Marin Healthcare District approves the resolution, the hospital will research use of pot and report back to the board. Stay tuned.

“I just can see it if we approve medicinal cannabis we’re going to be known as Marijuana General Hospital,” Bedard joked in SF Gate. “My favorite is Marin Ganja Hospital.”

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