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Former Santee Mayor initiated legislation aimed to improve quality of life for terminally-ill patients with medical cannabis in compliance with Proposition 215.

The history of Senate Bill 305, also known as Ryan’s Law and The Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act, traces back to San Diego residents. In March 2018, Ryan Bartell, son of San Diego’s former Mayor of Santee, Jim Bartell, was diagnosed with an aggressive pancreatic cancer that left him terminally ill and with a life expectancy of less than a year. Ryan, age 42, passed away on April 21, 2018, and is survived by his wife and nine-year-old son. This devastating loss has become a catalyst for cannabinoid-based medicine and medical cannabis policy reform. The late Ryan Bartell graduated from West Hills High School in Santee.

Ryan’s battle with aggressive cancer included the use of opioids for pain management, which left him asleep most of the time, greatly diminishing the quality of his life when he needed it most. After four weeks, he left the hospital to go home and utilized cannabinoid-based medicine replacing opioids. He was then successfully able to manage pain while interacting meaningfully with his family during his final days alive.

Because medical cannabis drastically improved Ryan’s quality of life when it mattered most, his father Jim set out to make sure it could also help others too. Jim Bartell contacted California State Sen. Ben Hueso to initiate legislation providing terminally-ill patients with legal access to medical cannabis. Sen. Hueso, with co-authors Sen. Hill and Sen. Stone, quickly authored Ryan’s Law, SB-305. The intent of Ryan’s Law is to support the ability of a terminally ill patient to safely use medical cannabis within specified healthcare facilities in compliance with Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

On April 10, the Senate Committee on Health held a hearing on SB-305, and it passed unanimously. Despite hospitals having adopted federal policies prohibiting cannabis in their facilities, Sen. Stone shared just before moving the bill, “I think that the federal government as a whole is a very compassionate group especially at the FDA. I think physicians want to alleviate suffering. If cannabis is the medication that allows one to better cope with their pain and suffering in their final hours, we should be standing behind them and alleviating their suffering.”

Former Mayor of Santee Jim Bartell shared with CULTURE, “Getting a unanimous vote of support from the Senate Health Committee was a great first step to building the momentum we need to move forward to the Senate floor, Assembly and governor’s desk. I am confident that Ryan’s Law will be enacted which allow tens of thousands of terminally ill patients to have a quality of life in their final weeks and days.”

“I am confident that Ryan’s Law will be enacted which allow tens of thousands of terminally ill patients to have a quality of life in their final weeks and days.”

Ryan’s Law pertains to health care facilities in California, but not chemical dependency recovery hospitals or state hospitals. It legalizes the use of non-inhaled medical cannabis in their premises by terminally-ill patients. Terminally ill is typically equated with having less than one year to live. Non-inhaled cannabis includes cannabis edibles, oils and topicals used in compliance with Prop. 215. Smoking and vaping would not be allowed. Patients still are required to have a physician’s written recommendation for medical cannabis or a medical cannabis card, but the bill does not require that healthcare facilties issue them. Each healthcare facility will create their own cannabis medicine policies and procedures for their premises.