Two recent studies show that the vast majority of Americans, including palliative care professionals, favor the use of medical marijuana as part of hospice care.
MorseLife recently unveiled a 2019 study focused on advances in hospice care and found that “87% of Americans support the use of medical marijuana as a treatment option for terminally ill patients, with nearly three in five Americans (58%) expressing strong support.”
Another study, published in October 2019 in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, focused on the responses of over 300 palliative care professionals from over 40 states on the use of medical cannabis. The study found “overwhelming support” for the use of medical cannabis in a hospice setting: “Regardless of legal status, hospice staff members were overwhelmingly in agreement that medical cannabis is appropriate for hospice patients to have access to and use.”
The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine recently shared a video on how hospices can integrate medical marijuana into care, heralding more change in the market to accepting marijuana as a part of a patient’s care plan.
Pathways Home Health is in favor of using marijuana in hospice care, stating: “Marijuana is used in the hospice care setting to ease spiritual and existential suffering, with some studies showing an important therapeutic role for patients faced with the despair of a terminal illness, as well as the loss of function that accompanies it. A mild euphoria or sense of well-being can ease a patient’s mind, body and spirit as they come to terms with their fate.”
While most hospice professionals embrace the use of medical cannabis, they face uncertainty about whether to allow it, even when it’s legal inside their particular state. With an ever-expanding list of states that allow marijuana both medically and recreationally, hospices are taking an evidence-based, risk-management-forward approach to ensure they comply legally and ethically.
Citing barriers such as legal status, clinical safety, and societal influence, the study published in October 2019 found that opportunities exist to better support hospice providers and patients with education, research and policies that elevate the use of medical cannabis.
With new patients entering hospice every day and both clinicians and doctors looking to supplement old pain medicines with newer more effective treatments, marijuana will remain a top topic for years to come.
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