(BCN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Sept. 2 to protect the right of patients to medical treatment if they use cannabis and the right of physicians and clinics to treat them.

Assembly Bill 1954, introduced by California Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), passed the legislature with bipartisan support. The bill was sponsored by California NORML, the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1972 that advocates for the rights of cannabis consumers in the state, and co-sponsored by Americans for Safe Access.

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“Many physicians are under the mistaken impression that they can’t prescribe medication to patients who test positive for cannabis,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. The new law clarifies that physicians cannot be punished for treating patients who use or test positive for cannabis, despite its illicit status under federal law.

The bill also outlaws the automatic elimination of cannabis-using patients from pain management programs by specifying that a positive drug test for cannabis should not be the sole basis for denying medical treatment.

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