A new survey from the US has found that the vast majority of hospice staff in America support the use of medical cannabis for their patients.

A survey asking 310 hospice clinicians and administrators in 40 states for their views on medical cannabis in hospice care has found that more than 91% of hospice staff support the use of medical cannabis.

According to the study:

“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 authors of the study now believe that hospice clinicians, especially those who perform home visits, need greater education on medical cannabis.

The study also found that hospice physicians rarely recommend or certify patients for medical cannabis. Conversations about cannabis When cannabis conversations do occur they are most frequently initiated by the patient.

About 84% of the survey respondents said they believed health care professionals would benefit from standardised protocols for managing medical cannabis.

“Legal or illegal, cannabis is a medication, and clinicians need to know what medications their patients are taking.”
– Lynn McPherson, study second co-author

Ryan Costantino, co-author of the study and a University of Maryland Pharmacist, said the study highlighted the need for hospices to develop policies to help staff gain a better understanding of medical cannabis:

“When it comes to medical cannabis, nurses often have as many questions as patients do.

“They ask questions such as, ‘If I go into a room where a patient is smoking cannabis, will I get high?’ ‘Will I smell like cannabis when I arrive at the next patient’s home?’

“Hospices should be developing policies and educating staff on what to do when they encounter cannabis in patient homes.”

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, more than 2.6 million patients use legal medical cannabis in the United States. However, due to cannabis remaining illegal at the federal level in the US it cannot be covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

While hospices do not provide cannabis to patients even in states where it is legal, it is without doubt that some of their patients are using medical cannabis, even in States where it remains illegal.

Lynn McPherson, the study’s second co-author, added:

“There are definitely hospice patients that use medical cannabis. People have used cannabis for many years even before it became legal in some areas. The question is whether their doctors know they are using it.

“Legal or illegal, cannabis is a medication, and clinicians need to know what medications their patients are taking.

“Like any other medication, cannabis poses some risks, including potential adverse drug interactions.”