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Is this legal?

Nurses   (4,609 Views | 39 Replies)

BeenThere2012 is a ASN, RN and specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

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Not sure if this is the correct forum...?

We have a policy where I work, that marijuana is confiscated from patient belongings when they are admitted, unless they have a medical marijuana card.

We are in California where it is legal for recreational use. Our administrators tell us that we must abide by the Federal laws regarding this and not the California law.

Generally, I'm not against people using marijuana with certain exceptions like kids and mentally ill who can be adversely effected. It just seems to me we are "stealing" legal personal property.

Its confusing to me from the legal aspect. Another example: Drug paraphernalia can be confiscated and yet it is legally sold in stores all over the place here.

Can anyone shed shed some light on this?

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kaylee. has 7 years experience and specializes in Stepdown . Telemetry.

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This is a good question. In California also. This happened once, where a patient had some pot, not a lot, but we did not take it from him, because it is legal to own and his property. Its like if they had a pack of cigs. Unless they were trying to light up, there is no justification for taking them.

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1 Follower; 2,293 Posts; 48,475 Profile Views

What do you do with it after confiscation? Do you discard it? Or turn it over to hospital police/security for them to dispose of?

As for your facility's decision to follow federal law, has your legal department provided a recommendation?

And last, regarding marijuana being "legal personal property." As you noted, it remains a schedule 1 agent.

While a state technically can't make it "legal," it can choose to not criminalize it on the state level, and to not enforce the federal statute.

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That Guy has 6 years experience as a BSN, RN, EMT-B and specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

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Most of their funding comes from federal not state sources. You bet they will abide by their rules over state rules, or so I would think.

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Sour Lemon has 9 years experience.

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Not sure if this is the correct forum...?

We have a policy where I work, that marijuana is confiscated from patient belongings when they are admitted, unless they have a medical marijuana card.

We are in California where it is legal for recreational use. Our administrators tell us that we must abide by the Federal laws regarding this and not the California law.

Generally, I'm not against people using marijuana with certain exceptions like kids and mentally ill who can be adversely effected. It just seems to me we are "stealing" legal personal property.

Its confusing to me from the legal aspect. Another example: Drug paraphernalia can be confiscated and yet it is legally sold in stores all over the place here.

Can anyone shed shed some light on this?

The patients aren't being held against their wills, I assume. Laws aside, they can leave the hospital if they don't agree with hospital policy.

I used to work for a place that would store the stuff in lockers in the nurses' station and return it to the patients at discharge. I don't know how if affects everyone else, but it gives me massive headaches that nothing will get rid of. I'm not sure any department should have to deal with that sort of thing.

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Luchador has 5 years experience as a CNA, EMT-B.

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This is a great question and illustrates how stupid our laws our regarding weed-- recreational legal in more and more states yet illegal at the Federal level. LAX now says you can fly out with weed in a carry on-- but if the feds stop you in the airport they can bust you with it. Ridiculous.

Sounds like your hospital is following fed guidelines.

Planes themselves are also subject to federal law, which means you could still face fines or detention for carrying pot, even if Los Angeles police decline to prosecute -- at minimum, you don't want to miss your flight by getting held up.

LAX airport to allow marijuana in carry-ons | CNN Travel

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EllaBella1 is a BSN and specializes in ICU.

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The legality of marijuana in general is really complicated. I don't think your hospital is necessarily wrong to abide by the federal law in this case. I personally would just skirt the issue by telling the patient "Hey you can't have that with you here, either I need to send it to security or you can send it home with family/friends."

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1,718 Posts; 17,826 Profile Views

What do you do with it after confiscation? Do you discard it? Or turn it over to hospital police/security for them to dispose of?

As for your facility's decision to follow federal law, has your legal department provided a recommendation?

And last, regarding marijuana being "legal personal property." As you noted, it remains a schedule 1 agent.

While a state technically can't make it "legal," it can choose to not criminalize it on the state level, and to not enforce the federal statute.

I recommend burning it.

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

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I recommend burning it.

I don't even smoke, and this has me cracking up so hard!!

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Have Nurse has 25 years experience and specializes in Med/Surg/Infection Control/Geriatrics.

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This is a good question. In California also. This happened once, where a patient had some pot, not a lot, but we did not take it from him, because it is legal to own and his property. Its like if they had a pack of cigs. Unless they were trying to light up, there is no justification for taking them.

Maybe not, but for Risk Management purposes, it should be locked up with any valuable and a receipt given at the hospital.

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Katillac has 18 years experience as a RN.

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Am I the crazy one here? Abiding by a federal law prohibiting marijuana possession means specifically you don't possess marijuana, not that you steal it from somebody. Because that's what confiscating is (as the OP is feeling) when you have no legal authority to do so - theft. Staff aren't even mandated reporters of marijuana possession, nor of positive tests for controlled substances. Furthermore, does your facility set itself up to enforce all federal laws? If not, its selective enforcement is unethical.

As a nurse who does home visits, we are specifically prohibited from requiring patients surrender medications they are no longer taking (although we educate and offer to destroy narcotics) because the meds are the patient's property. Why should a hospital be different?

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35 Posts; 1,073 Profile Views

That is a great question. I am in CA as well. I would think that taking it from the patient would may cross a fine line, as it is legal to have, in small amounts. I would understand having it locked up if the patient was hospitalized

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