CA: Marin Health Board Member Proposes Open Use Of Medical Marijuana At Marin General


A longtime member of the Marin Healthcare District board wants to allow patients to openly use medicinal cannabis at Marin General Hospital.

“I want to have Marin General be the first hospital in California to openly and transparently allow patients to use medical cannabis,” said Dr. Larry Bedard, a retired emergency medicine physician who used to work at Marin General.

Bedard’s activism isn’t limited to medical marijuana, which California legalized in 1996. He also has helped to write the rebuttal to the argument against Proposition 64, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Proposition 64 would make the recreational use of marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older in California; adults would be allowed to grow small amounts at home for personal use. The initiative would limit the sale of non-medical marijuana to be regulated as licensed businesses that only adults 21 and older would be permitted to enter.

According to the state’s legislative analyst and its director of finance, legalization would result in tens of millions of dollars in reduced costs related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional state and local tax revenue related to the production and sale of marijuana. But they say most of these funds would be required to be spent on substance abuse education, prevention and treatment.

Bedard said he is passionate about legalizing marijuana because he believes people of color are suffering disproportionately under existing law.

“Four times as many blacks and Latinos get arrested as whites with virtually the same use rates,” Bedard said. “If you want to reform the justice system, this is by far the easiest and most effective way.”

He also believes that adults should be able to choose whether they want to use cannabis or alcohol, which he considers to be far more harmful.

“As an emergency physician, I know that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” Bedard said.

He served on a California Medical Association task force on marijuana that led to the association recommending the legalization of cannabis.

Bedard has already sent his resolution proposing inpatient use of medicinal cannabis at Marin General to the hospital’s managers, his fellow board members and other interested parties.

“I think it is a fantastic idea,” said Frederick Mayer, a retired Marin pharmacist who heads Pharmacists Planning Services Inc., a nonprofit pharmacy education organization.

Mayer said hospitals in Israel have pioneered the use of cannabis for palliative care. He said in some cases marijuana can be substituted for the more dangerous narcotics used for pain management, which are leading increasingly to addiction problems.

Marin Healthcare District board member Jennifer Rienks, however, said she still has “a lot of questions” about Bedard’s proposal.

“At this point, I really need to hear more about it,” Rienks said.

In his resolution, Bedard acknowledges that Marin General administrators are “concerned that the federal government could/would retaliate by lifting the hospital’s Medicare provider number and the state could withhold Medi-Cal funding.”

But he says such fears are overblown since a federal budget amendment authored by California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican and Democrat Sam Farr prevents the government from using federal funds to penalize patients, physicians and hospitals that are complying with state law.

Bedard said he isn’t proposing that patients be allowed to smoke marijuana at the hospital, where smoking is banned. He said Israeli hospitals have inhalation units where cannabis is administered.

The argument against Proposition 64 was written jointly by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Doug Villars, president of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen; and Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association.

In their con argument, they state that legalization of cannabis would result in more traffic fatalities, permit the growing of up to six marijuana plants near schools and parks; increase drug cartel activity; allow marijuana smoking ads on television in prime time and result in pot shops proliferating in poor neighborhoods.

Greenwood Village police Chief John Jackson, past president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, is quoted as saying that filings in which the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act was used in conjunction with a marijuana charge increased from one in 2007, before marijuana was legalized in Colorado, to 40 in 2015 after cannabis became legal.

Jackson said he and other law enforcement officers made no concerted effort to lobby against legalization in Colorado.

“We just didn’t think it would pass,” Jackson said. “We woke up the next day, and we were shocked to see that it had.”

The rebuttal to the con argument was written by Bedard, California Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, and Marsha Rosenbaum, director emerita of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug law reform advocacy group.

In their rebuttal, they state that nothing in Proposition 64 makes it legal to show marijuana ads on TV; that impaired driving has decreased in states with legalized marijuana and crash risks hasn’t increased; that states with legalized marijuana have less youth marijuana use; and that Proposition 64 would allocate new funds to develop legal standards under direction of the California Highway Patrol for measuring driver impairment.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Marin Health Board Member Proposes Open Use Of Medical Marijuana At Marin General
Author: Richard Halstead
Contact: Marin Independent Journal
Photo Credit: Robert Tong
Website: Marin Independent Journal