On Sept. 28, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 311, also known as
Ryan’s Law, to allow terminally ill patients who have a valid medical
cannabis card under California’s Compassionate Use Act to use medical
cannabis in a healthcare facility (excluding chemical dependency recovery
and state hospitals).
The law applies only to terminally ill patients, defined as individuals
diagnosed with “a medical condition resulting in a prognosis of life of one
year or less, if the disease follows its natural course.” The law does not
apply to any patients receiving services in a facility’s emergency
department and does not require healthcare facilities to recommend the use
of medical cannabis or include medical cannabis in a patient’s discharge
plan. Healthcare facilities should take immediate steps to comply as the
law explicitly states that a healthcare facility may not prohibit a
patient’s use of medical cannabis even though cannabis is an illegal
Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law.
Additional key provisions include requirements for healthcare facilities
- Document the use of medical cannabis in the patient’s medical record.
- Develop written guidelines for the proper storage and use of medical
- Ensure medical cannabis is stored in a locked container to ensure the
safety of hospital employees, other patients and guests.
- Prohibit patients from smoking or vaping medical cannabis.
Compliance with the law is not a condition for obtaining, retaining or
renewing a healthcare facility license. The law allows healthcare
facilities to suspend compliance in limited situations if a federal
regulatory agency, the U.S. Department of Justice or the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services: (i) takes enforcement action against a
healthcare facility; (ii) issues a rule that prohibits the use of medical
marijuana in a healthcare facility; or (iii) prohibits compliance with a
state-regulated medical marijuana program.
Healthcare facilities should give serious consideration to the risks
associated with the use and storage of medical cannabis in a healthcare
facility and carefully develop comprehensive policies, procedures and staff
training measures to ensure compliance.
For information on McGuireWoods’ cannabis law capabilities, please visit
cannabis, hemp and CBD web page or contact one of the authors of this alert.
“In the Weeds” is McGuireWoods’ biweekly ounce of highlights in the budding cannabis, hemp and CBD industries. For more information, see our newsletter archive, our Edible Bites podcast series, or visit our Cannabis, Hemp & CBD practice.