Marijuana Shows Early Promise in Skilled Nursing, and Future Residents May Expect Access

January 16, 2019

A small group of nursing home residents in New York City has seen concrete improvements in pain management and other medical issues through the use of medical marijuana — and as the drug becomes legal in more jurisdictions, the SNF residents of the future may come to expect it as part of their care plans.

Writing in the January issue of JAMDA — The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, medical director Zachary Palace of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale reported early results from its pioneering medical-marijuana program, in which nine of 10 participants saw some type of benefit.

“It is important that 20th-century social and political stigmata associated with cannabis use for recreational purposes not be attached to the application of cannabis use for medicinal purposes,” Palace and co-author Daniel Reingold, president and CEO of Hebrew Home operator RiverSpring Health, wrote. “The potential for therapeutic benefit associated with medical cannabis use should be viewed as an important additional tool in the clinician’s armamentarium of therapeutic options in the symptom management of many common nursing facility complaints.”

Diagnosis overlap

Hebrew Home at Riverdale, located in the Bronx, developed a formal medical marijuana policy in 2016, after New York State lawmakers legalized the use of cannabis by patients with a variety of conditions — including Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders, and chronic pain.