Minnesota Hospital Association

Quality & Patient Safety

Medical cannabis

Since Minnesota passed a medical cannabis law effective July 1, 2015, hospitals and health care facilities have reviewed how to care for patients who possess or use medical cannabis. Federal law, Minnesota law, CMS regulations and accrediting organizations’ requirements do not clearly align with one another. 

In the 2015 legislative session, MHA secured an amendment to Minnesota’s medical cannabis statute to extend state law protections and immunities to employees of hospitals and clinics when providing care to a patient on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry. The amendment also allows health care facilities to reasonably restrict the use of medical cannabis by patients. For example, the facility may choose not to store or maintain a patient's supply of medical cannabis or it may restrict the use of medical cannabis to a specific location. 

MHA convened a broad group of members to discuss the impact of Minnesota’s medical cannabis law on hospital workflows and policies/procedures. MHA’s Medical Cannabis Work Group included leaders from pharmacy, nursing, the Adverse Drug Events Advisory Group, controlled substance diversion prevention subject matter experts and legal counsel. 

The work group has produced template policies for MHA members to be used at their discretion. The policies can be summarized as follows: 

  1. The hospital will not allow medical cannabis. 
  2. The hospital will allow inpatients to continue use while inpatient in the hospital and medical cannabis will be treated as self-administered home therapy.
  3. The hospital will allow inpatients to continue while inpatient in the hospital and medical cannabis will be treated as a medication and integrated within the hospital medical workflows. 

Hospital leaders may wish to use the template policies to develop processes to work with patients who are authorized to use medical cannabis. Hospitals should consider the issues raised in the template policies and work with their appropriate committees, such as a pharmacy and therapeutics committee, physician committees, legal committees or executive committees to make a determination about how they will proceed.

There is not a single standard for all Minnesota hospitals. Each institution must customize its approach based on patient characteristics and needs, staff considerations and legal analysis. A hospital may choose not to adopt new policies specific to medical cannabis and instead rely on existing procedures that are already in place.  

Visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for helpful resources.