Medical Marijuana being made legal has caused a tremendous stir in the world of medicine. Health Professionals have long been aware that there are benefits to Medicinal use of Marijuana and its component parts, CBD and THC. In the 1980’s Marinol, a synthetic form of THC (found in the Marijuana plant), was prescribed for pain, for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer and as an appetite stimulant. As with any medication there are side effects, most pronounced being drowsiness.
CBD oil (Cannnabidiol) is the non-psychoactive portion of the Marijuana plant which is extracted and then placed in a carrier oil for consumption. It can be purchased over the counter, even on Amazon and is being used extensively by the lay-person because it is easy to acquire and can be obtained without a prescription. However, CBD oil should be purchased only from reputable sources, as this is not controlled by the state or the FDA for purity and quality.
The job of the FDA is to review data submitted to the them in an application for approval to assure that the drug product meets the statutory standards for approval. This is not the case with THC or with CBD as per the FDA as there are not sufficient, reliable data for the FDA to make a determination. There are published studies in many Journals of medicine which site the benefits of CBD for pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, and various less studied properties. As with anything the most common side effects are diarrhea, appetite changes and fatigue.
THC is the psychoactive portion of the Marijuana plant and has been shown to offer benefits in certain conditions including; chronic pain, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, Glaucoma, Cancer treatment side effects, PTSD, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and HIV/AIDs. Side effects are reported to be blood shot eyes, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, and altered coordination.
Medical Marijuana is typically a combination of both properties of THC and CBD in specific ratios as prescribed by the physician. In order to obtain medical marijuana in NYS, you must see a certified prescribing physician of Medical Marijuana who is registered with the Department of Health, obtain a Medical Marijuana card and registration for both the patient and the person who will be obtaining the medical marijuana and it must be obtained and the prescription can only be filled from the certified dispensary who must get the product from a certified grower. It can be a bit complicated.
With the senior population, the biggest problem encountered is often the lack of a current driver’s license or non- driver ID card and one of these options is required for the physician to register the senior with the Medical Marijuana program. We are lucky as we, The Kensington have a physician we work closely with that can prescribe this for our residents, assuming that the resident has one of the approved conditions for the prescribing of the medication.
Many physicians do not want to have the responsibility or the burden of the paperwork in order to prescribe MM. In a community setting like the Kensington Assisted Living Residence, we must also obtain approval from the Department of Health to administer the Medical Marijuana. In addition, only a small percentage of the total number of residents can be on the medication per the Department of Health. Medical Marijuana cannot be delivered so it becomes the responsibility of a family member to obtain the medication at the dispensary and then remit this to nursing at The Kensington for counting and administration. Complicated indeed.
But while obtaining Medical Marijuana for our residents is complex it can be done! It requires coordination and determination from everyone. I have personally seen the benefits of all these medications in action so in my opinion, bring on the pot!