Patients at a California hospital could soon be allowed to openly use medical marijuana, pending approval from its governing board.

KQED News reports that Marin General Hospital could become the first hospital in the state to allow its patients to use cannabis, following the Marin Healthcare District Board’s Sept. 13 decision to ask its staff to investigate the clinical and legal issues of the idea.

Larry Bedard, the board member who proposed that the idea be investigated, told KQED News that medical marijuana is already being used “under cover” at hospitals. It’s preferable that patients be open about it so that their doctors better understand the full range of medications they’re taking, said Bedard.

New policy would still ban smoking marijuana

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This wouldn’t mean patients would be allowed to smoke cannabis in their hospital rooms, however. Bedard said that since smoking isn’t permitted in hospital buildings, the medical marijuana could be administered through other products like edibles.

Larry Cohen, executive director of the Prevention Institute in Oakland, said hospitals would be the ideal place for supervising the use of medical marijuana.

“It’s far better for the medical staff to know what people are using and to ensure the right quality and the right fit with other medications, so this is probably smart,” Cohen said. “One of the biggest disadvantages of edibles has to do with unsupervised risk related to children, and clearly this is far less of a concern in a medical institution.”

Cannabis use in hospitals has been the focus of hot debate across the U.S. Connecticut and Maine have both passed legislation that protects hospital staff from criminal, civil or disciplinary action if they administer cannabis to hospital patients, according to Washington NORML deputy director Paul Armentano.

The Marin Healthcare District Board is planning to host several public meetings on medical marijuana use, Bedard said, with a staff report expected in June.

h/t KQED News.