Although medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the US, many elderly people should be able to benefit from it
Medical marijuana in nursing homes. Medical cannabis and cannabinoids have aroused unprecedented interest throughout the world and in all sectors of society. You can be rich or poor, but health does not understand economics. It has been a long time since natural medicine is gaining followers and society perceives it as the remedy that Mother Nature offers us to cure our illnesses. We are all happy with this form of medicine except for the pharmaceutical industry; although it also wants to get benefits from marijuana.
Although we are all interested in cannabinoids, it is mainly older people who show the greatest enthusiasm. It is normal since, from a certain age we all begin to experience chronic pain, insomnia, painful effects related to cancer treatments, mood swings, depression and other disorders. The problem is that modern pharmacology has too many problems and many very negative side effects. Recently one study concluded that people over 50 do not admit very well taking several medications.
Why do not hospitals or nursing care centers in the United States provide medical marijuana to their patients even if they are in states in which its use is legal?
It is very simple. They deny access to medical cannabis because this substance remains illegal at the federal level in the United States. All of these medical institutions are funded through Medicare and other federal institutions. While cannabis continues to be included in Schedule 1 of controlled substances, no institution financially dependent on the state can provide medical cannabis to its patients.
In our article “Why is not cannabis legalized at the federal level in the USA?” we already explained that for Europeans the American model was very difficult to understand.
How is it possible that the same substance is legal at the state level and illegal at the federal level? It is very difficult to understand for the mentality of a European.
However, an institution has finally found the formula to medicate its elderly patients with medical marijuana and at the same time respect the laws of the state of New York and the federal laws on medical cannabis.
The institution is the prestigious “The Hebrew Home of Riverdale,” a 735-bed medical care center just outside of New York City.
Dan Reingold, the director of this medical center, made the right of access to medical cannabis for the sick of “The Hebrew Home of Riverdale” a personal crusade. This doctor had seen how his father, terminally ill with cancer, had benefited from marijuana. The experience lived with his father convinced him that medical marijuana was very effective.
With the logic of a lawyer, Dan Reingold explained to the media that patients admitted to “The Hebrew Home of Riverdale” are citizens of the state of New York. It is a contradiction that a citizen of this state has the right to consume medicinal cannabis at home but not in a medical institution or a hospital. Legaly this is discrimination.
Being a doctor who has made the Hippocratic oath, Dan Reingold feels obliged to defend the rights of his patients in long-term treatments. And, of course, medical cannabis is a right of any sick person.
Before doing anything, Reingold and Dr. Zachary Palace, Medical Director of the house, made sure to have the consensus of the entire therapeutic team of the institution. Between Reingold and Dr. Zachary Palace they developed a set of protocols to get patients to have the right to be treated with medicinal cannabis.
For this they were based on the medical experience of “Hebrew Home”. They explained their findings in an article called “Medical cannabis in a skilled nursing facility: a novel approach to improve symptom management and quality of life.” The article had a great impact on the medical community.
The article is based on the fact that the priorities of skilled nursing facilities are the rule that the fewer medications, the better for the patient. But above all, avoid the maximum prescription of medications with negative side effects. And without a doubt, cannabis meets these two requirements.
The system invented by these two doctors is legal and very effective. Under federal law, health care centers cannot provide cannabis to their patients. But patients are allowed to have their own safe deposit boxes inside the center, just like in a bank. In these safety boxes, patients can store their medications.
The center cannot provide medical cannabis, but patients can buy it at any licensed dispensary. However, there are patients who do not have mobility and, therefore, cannot go to a dispensary to buy their cannabis. For these cases, “The Hebrew Home of Riverdale” has contacted the dispensary called Vireo, which is licensed to operate with medicinal cannabis in the state of New York and also makes free deliveries at home. It also have a medical office through Skype.
Patients can self-administer their cannabis or can allow a professional caregiver who is not part of the employees of “The Hebrew Home of Riverdale”.
As this institution is a non-smoking center, only cannabis formats that are administered orally or topically are allowed; as are the capsules and the creams and oils.
Proving to have very clear ideas, the Hebrew Home initiated an educational campaign on medicinal cannabis, intended for patients. One of its intentions was to discredit the false myths about marijuana and, in addition, to conceive the general lines of the treatments. The report was distributed to patients and their families.
The report tells the clinical experience of 10 patients who took part in the medicinal cannabis project. The ages ranged from 62 to 100 years. Six of them suffered from chronic pain, two had Parkinson’s disease, another suffered from these two diseases combined: Parkinson’s and chronic pain. And the last patient suffered from severe seizures.
All the patients showed considerable improvements; especially those who suffered from chronic pain. Medical cannabis implied a dramatic reduction in the use of drugs derived from opium and an improvement in their quality of life.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease experienced a not very considerable improvement in terms of their muscle stiffness problems. And those who suffered seizures got a great reduction in the frequency of them: from twice a week to between 1 or 2 a month.
But perhaps the most spectacular was the improvement in the quality of life among all the patients who took part in the study. They became more social, more vital, improved appetite and greatly relieved their pain. Dr. Palace says that an 86-year-old patient expressed his desire to dance.
Unfortunately, 3 patients were forced to abandon therapy due to lack of financial resources. Medical cannabis is not funded by health insurance companies or by Medicare. It is unfortunate that many patients cannot afford the medicinal cannabis treatment and it is a shame that the American Social Security (Medicare) does not finance it.
Some doctors asked Dr. Reingold if he was not worried about losing Medicare grants for his medical cannabis program. Reingold responded that the United States government had more important things to do than to take medical cannabis away from the elderly, who had also significantly reduced their opiate intake.
Medical marijuana is still not legal at the federal level in the United States. But because no federal agency has done the relevant studies to prove its medicinal efficacy, the reality is that cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years around the world.