Many hospitals and nursing homes across the country deny patients access to medical cannabis, including those in states where medical - or even recreational - cannabis is legal.
The reason? These institutions rely on Medicare and other federal subsidization for their funding. So, as long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, those living in federally funded institutions will be refused treatment.
However, Hebrew Home—a 735-bed nursing home in New York City—is trying to remedy this problem, according to a recent article from Forbes.
The home’s CEO Dan Reingold, along with Medical Director Zachary Palace, recently developed a set of policies and procedures that would enable their residents to legally obtain and use medical cannabis.
While it is still necessary to remain compliant with federal law in order to retain their funding, the home is finding innovative ways to support their patients who wish to treat themselves with medical cannabis - which is legal in the state of New York.
Early in their process, Hebrew Home offered a medical cannabis educational program to help residents better understand the role that cannabis can play in a treatment plan, and to dispel myths and miseducation surrounding the plant. Additionally, a fact sheet describing the framework of the medical cannabis program was handed out to residents and their families.
In order to remain compliant with federal law, the home cannot purchase or store medical cannabis. However, the home provides residents with individualized lock boxes, which, if they so choose, can be used to store cannabis.
For residents who are unable to travel, the New York certified Vireo dispensary offers Skype consultations and free delivery.
It is also stipulated that residents must self-administer their medicine, or have it administered by a caregiver who is not on the Hebrew Home staff.
Smoking remains banned in the facility, but orally administered medications (capsules or tinctures) are permitted.
Reingold asserted that this was not an attempt to “circumvent” the law but to provide his residents with the best possible options for their personal treatments. As Hebrew House is abiding the laws as outlined by the federal government, he isn’t concerned about losing funding.
“I believe that the federal government has bigger things to worry about than taking medical cannabis away from older adults,” he said.
Hopefully he's right.