Medical marijuana is a tricky situation with complex variables, as outlined in the magazine story, Cutting Through the Smoke.
So how should facilities address this?
Below are a few steps that take us through a resident’s use of marijuana to highlight some of the issues you may have to face.
Step One: The resident is prescribed the medication
The first thing to learn is in which form the medication is being administered. Does the patient smoke it or take it in their food? There are different processes for each method.
If they are smoking the marijuana, where is this acceptable to do? Facilities can set aside a smoking area outside if there is space. This ensures that it does not interfere with other residents.
The main issue that arises is about dosing.
Marijuana is a medication that has many unreliable factors that can alter the dosage, potentially even day by day. This aspect can be troubling when it comes to the management of marijuana as medication.
Step Two: The resident is taking the medication
It’s important to determine if the medication is self-administered or not.
If self-administered, does the resident keep the marijuana in their room along with their other medications? Or is it stored in a locked space?
If it’s being administered by your staff, you need to ensure they are all willing and comfortable in handling this drug.
Because marijuana is also used recreationally, it’s important to make sure it is in a secure space. It’s also important that the staff receive training about this drug including what side effects to look for both for short-term and prolonged use.
Step Three: Potential concern from other residents and their families
As the resident continues to take medical marijuana, it may be common knowledge that this drug is being used in your facility. If residents are smoking the medical marijuana, even in a designated space, the lingering smell may affect your other residents.
Because of the public perception around the use of marijuana, there may be some concern from families or a lack of awareness that prompts greater discussions. For example, just because you have a designated outside patio for smoking medical marijuana doesn't mean that you are the ‘pothead’ care facility.
These are just some of the issues you may have to address when dealing with medical marijuana in your facility.
Have you come across a situation like this yet? How would you approach this issue?