There were several medical marijuana bills awaiting the approval of California Governor Gavin Newsom this month. 

Two bills in particular, SB 305 and SB 34, were the cause of much concern among cannabis activists. Even though governors of the state of California have 12 days of the day of transmittal to sign a bill, or it becomes law without their signature, cannabis supporters were worried that Governor Gavin Newsom might veto the legislation.

Turns out their concerns were justified. On October 12, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he had no choice but to veto Senate Bill 305. 

SB 305, or Ryan’s Law, if approved, would have permitted the medical use of cannabis for terminally ill patients in California hospitals,

Ryan’s Law was written by Jim Bartell, whose son Ryan died last year of cancer. He was treated in a Washington hospital and given high doses of opioids for pain relief, which caused the constant fatigue. Ryan asked for cannabis instead.

After one day of taking medical cannabis in another hospital in Seattle, Ryan was more alert and feeling less pain, which allowed him to spend the last days of his life with his family. He died at the age of 42, seven weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

This tragic event inspired Jim Bartell to research and write Ryan’s Law. 

“This is about treating dying patients with dignity and providing them with a quality of life in their final days and weeks,” he wrote in an email to High Times.

Taking cannabis for medical purposes is legal in California, but state and federal laws prohibit patients from using cannabis on hospital grounds.

Newsom cited conflict between state and federal laws as one of the reasons why he vetoed the bill. He admitted that the federal government’s position on legalizing cannabis puts patients and their carers in an unfair position. 

Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML since 1987, said that he is extremely disappointed by this turn of events. He added that the bill even made exemptions if federal agencies decided that the hospitals in question were breaking the law.

The governor did sign the Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act into law. This law will allow licensed dispensaries to make compassionate donations of medical marijuana to patients who need it. Previously, California law did not allow businesses to give away cannabis, for whatever the purpose.