Monday, July 18, 2016

Medical Marijuana Hospice Pros and Cons (Research, Video 2:00)

The number of states with medical marijuana laws in place continues to grow. Healthcare workers should be aware of the scientific rationale and practical implications for its use in treating diseases and relieving symptoms. According to Wikipedia (the free encyclopedia), the Cannabis plant (marijuana, Mary Jane, weed, pot, grass, herb, reefer, joint, blunt, etc.) has a history of medicinal uses dating back thousands of years across many cultures. However, its long-term effects are not clear, and its use for certain medical applications is insufficient for conclusions about safety or efficacy. Medical marijuana is used to reduce nausea and vomiting, to improve appetite in people with HIV-AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Medical marijuana is also used for Alzheimer’sdisease. Of the 24 states and localities where medical marijuana is legal, dementia is a qualifying condition in 10 states primarily for agitation of Alzheimer's disease. Where information was available regarding qualifying certification conditions in five states, dementia was the indication for fewer than 5% of medical marijuana certifications. Although few applicants for medical marijuana list dementia as the reason for seeking certification, providers should be aware that dementia is a potential indication for licensing despite lack of evidence for its efficacy.

The literature on medical marijuana, which includes studies involving hundreds of patients, was reviewed by Medline  from 1948-March 2015. Their results reported that use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence. However, physicians and other healthcare workers should educate themselves because some uses of the drug medically may lack evidence to support treatment with marijuana. They should also educate their patients about medical marijuana to ensure that it is used appropriately and that patients will benefit from its use. Eating edible marijuana is more popular than smoking it.

Valley Hospice was the first hospice in the state of Arizona to use medical marijuana in their comprehensive hospice program. In this video, Dr. Margaret King and patients explain how the program started and concerns about the use of medical marijuana:

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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