State battles medical marijuana liability risks

Massachusetts hospitals could lose billions in federal funding as they try to balance patient need and a new state law allowing the medical use of marijuana against a federal ban on the drug. Massachusetts voted last year to enact a compassionate medical marijuana program. Although hospitals have state law on their side, they are having trouble reconciling it when an executive has to certify on forms that the hospital is in compliance with federal law, according to WBUR's CommonHealth Reform and Reality. The statement isn't true if hospital patients are using marijuana for medical purposes and a doctor at that hospital is helping them, according to the article. "It's really challenging for the practitioners," Larry Vernaglia, an attorney at Foley & Lardner told WBUR. "If doctors say to themselves 'even though we have this new pathway under state law, we're not going to help our patients for fear of our liability,' I think that's a terrible position to be in." In addition to violating federal law, hospitals could face trouble with the IRS over their nonprofit status, jeopardizing grants and Medicare and Medicaid payments. Article

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