Hi all, I'm dealing with a dilemma in my workplace that I think you all might find interesting to discuss. Let me set the stage:
1. Federal law - the laws the hospital has to follow for medications preparation, administration, distribution is driven by the Food and Drug Administration
2. State law - the state of California allows people to carry a medical marijuana card and the substance.
3. Federal law, state, and county laws - the laws healthcare organizations have to follow for waste disposal including all medical waste whether it be tissue, hazard, or medication.
A patient arrives almost daily to our facility with medical marijuana. We are a tobacco-free campus so of course, they can not use it while hospitalized. We also cannot store it for them because federal law states the substance is illegal. We can't destroy it because of waste laws. The police will not confiscate it because it is legal in the state. What do we do with it?
I would argue that there are a variety of things that can be done. The central fact about this situation is that there is a very small amount of marijuana involved and it is very unlikely that anyone will pay any attention to what is done with that small amount.
One possibility is simply to ask the patient not to bring the marijuana to your facility. From what you say, the patient is getting no benefit from the marijuana while at your facility. Therefore, there is no real reason for them to bring it in to the facility. Ask them not to bring it or, at the very least, to leave it in their car while they enter the building.
A second possibility is the one mentioned in previous answers. It seems logical to simply let the patient hold on to the marijuana. Patients are presumably not searched when entering your facility. Therefore, there is no reason that you and the other employees should have to take any official notice of the fact that the patient has marijuana. Ask the patient to keep the marijuana in their own backpack or purse so that no one has to know it is there.
Finally, it is extremely unlikely that the federal government is going to come down on you if you store the marijuana. As can be seen in the article in the link below, the federal government is adopting a relatively hands-off approach to marijuana in states where it has been legalized. It is exceedingly unlikely that the federal government is going to go to the bother of prosecuting your facility for something this minor.
So, I would say that it would be best to explain the situation to the patient and ask them not to put you in the position of having to do something with the marijuana. However, if they persist, simply store it because it is unlikely at this point that the federal government will get involved.
There is nothing you can do until further law states otherwise. Just continue allowing the patient in holding the marijuana while in the hospital.
I think the best course of action would be to leave the marijuana in the posession of the individual. This frees the staff from any responsibility concerning waste disposal or storage. There are few instances where turning a blind eye is acceptable, but in this case I feel it is the least of the evils presented. Until the appropriate athorities determine a clearer policy, it appears there is not much you can do.