Can Hospice Patients Use Medical Marijuana?
In hospices throughout Florida and across North America, medical cannabis is increasingly replacing pharmaceutical medications to enable patients to experience their final days relaxed and without pain. Since 2016 Florida has had an established Medical Marijuana program that allows qualified residents to legally purchase and use medical cannabis products to help manage the debilitating symptoms they have to manage – even while in hospice.
To see if you or a loved one could be eligible for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, this questionnaire will let you know if you pre-qualify in minutes.
What is Hospice?
Hospice care is a special type of care that focuses on caring for and managing the quality of life for those experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. In more simple terms, its a facility that helps people pass away in peace so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.
When a person becomes a hospice patient, doctors do not expect them to live more than six months.  This end-of-life care can happen in a hospice center, a hospital, the individuals home, or in a skilled nursing facility.
Does Medical Marijuana Benefit Hospice Patients?
The use of cannabis in both hospice and palliative settings is supported in a new study that was recently published in the Journal of Palliative Care.  A total of 310 palliative care professionals, including physicians, nurses, and administrators from 40 different states responded to a survey on practice, experience and opinions regarding medical cannabis. Of all responders, 91% indicated that they support using medical cannabis for hospice patients. 
Surprisingly though, the same study found that it is “unusual for clinicians to initiate discussion of using medical cannabis with patients, families, or physicians involved in the case…” Out of the 36 physicians who responded to the survey, half did not recommend patients for medical cannabis and only one of them said they certified more than six patients a month.
Almost three quarters of the respondents reported having cared for at least one patient who was using medical cannabis. The conditions they reported cannabis as being most successful in managing were nausea/vomiting, pain and anxiety.
But is Cannabis Allowed in Hospice Care?
Patients who are going through hospice care are suffering from chronic conditions and could manage their debilitating symptoms with the help of medical marijuana. Hospice usually focuses on controlling their patient’s symptoms and pain levels because they believe the end of life is not a medical experience yet it is a human experience that benefits from expert medical care and holistic support.
Depending on the type of hospice care the patient is receiving, they may be able to manage their quality of life with medical cannabis products. In Florida specifically, there are many qualifying conditions that make one eligible for their medical marijuana card but the use of such products must be allowed by the specific hospice facility.
With that being said, there are other ways of going through hospice care that does not require a patient to live in a facility meaning they can live in the comfort of their own home. Use of medical marijuana products is legal on private property in Florida, so medicating at home while in hospice is allowed.
Each qualified medical marijuana patient in Florida has the ability to designate an approved caregiver to help them purchase and administer products from the state approved Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC). These caregivers can be family members, caregivers, or medical professionals. Caregivers in Florida have to apply for a Caregiver Card and be approved by the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Getting a Florida Medical Marijuana Card
Each state has unique laws regarding what conditions qualify for medical cannabis. In Florida specifically the following are required in order to be eligible for state-approval of medical cannabis use:
A Qualified Patient Must:
- Be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident
- Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a qualified physician
- Be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry
- Obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card
It is the responsibility of the qualified ordering physician to follow Florida law, diagnose patients with a qualifying medical condition and determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. The conditions listed below have been approved for medical cannabis use:
Qualifying Medical Conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
If you are still unsure if you or your loved one will qualify for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, this survey will tell you if you pre-qualify within minutes. Additionally, DocMJ offers risk-free appointments that you can book online. If you do not qualify per state guidelines you will be issued a full refund at the end of the appointment.
Medical Marijuana is helping hospice patients both in Florida and across the nation live the last months of their lives pain free and in peace!