The state legal cannabis industry can be a frustrating and confusing space. Despite the fact that more than 30 states have legalized medical marijuana, federal law still considers cannabis a Schedule I controlled substance with no medical applications. So while on one end nearly 5.5 million patients are using medical cannabis to alleviate a variety of medical issues, the federal government outlaws the controversial drug and requires federal agencies and institutions that rely on federal funding to follow its marijuana policies.
This has been a significant issue for the past few years, with businesses and individuals finding themselves penalized by the federal government for acts that are considered legal in their home states. In fact, this confusion led California Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill that would have allowed health institutions to allow cannabis use as he was under the impression that this would jeopardize their federal funding.
In that vein, a California senator has sent a request asking the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to clarify whether hospitals and healthcare institutions in states with legal marijuana markets can allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis without risking their federal funding. Since the federally funded institutions are required to abide by federal policies, it makes sense that healthcare institutions would be wary of recommending medical marijuana to their patients.
Sent by Senator Ben Huesco to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Administrator Chiquita Brooks LaSure, the letter asks the federal officials to lay out the possible implications if health facilities start permitting marijuana consumption. Senator Huesco has also filed an almost identical version of the bill, which has already advanced in the Senate as well as one Assembly committee and is now pending action on the Assembly floor.
Dubbed Ryan’s Law, the legislation would require hospitals and some healthcare facilities in California to allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis for treatment and pain relief. While hospitals that receive CMS accreditation currently do not allow this due to fear of federal reprisals, Huesco says a letter sent to his office by the CMS states no federal regulations specifically address this issue, and the agency isn’t aware of any hospital that has had its funding pulled due to medical marijuana.
Still, most hospitals, and even lawmakers, have been under the impression that hospitals couldn’t allow medical cannabis use, the letter notes. As such, providing clarification on whether or not Medicare/Medicaid providers will lose federal reimbursement for allowing medical cannabis on site would be significantly helpful to the patients who need medical cannabis and hospitals.
If the clarification is provided that patients can use medical marijuana in hospitals located in states with medical cannabis laws, one of the many ambiguities that the entire cannabis industry, including Sonoma Biologics Corp., faces would have been removed.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Sonoma Biologics Corp. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/Sonoma
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