Senior citizens, start behaving yourself. If you’re real nice and your kids have done well then maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have them put you in a 420-friendly nursing home. The Hebrew Home of Riverdale, just outside of New York City, is turning heads with its program to allow medical cannabis treatment in a nursing home.
Many nursing homes are wary of permitting medical marijuana for fear that violating federal cannabis laws could result in the loss of Medicare aide. But Hebrew Home’s management says they want to give their residents the best care, and sometimes that means getting them blazed.
“I feel that we have an obligation to protect and enforce the rights of residents in long-term care. And this is one of those rights,” Dan Reingold, CEO of Hebrew Home, told Forbes.
Government compliance is not easy for the facility. Hebrew Home has developed a system of complex protocols to try to protect themselves legally. For example, the home cannot actually provide medical cannabis to its residents, nor can it purchase or store it in the facility.
But they’ve developed some workarounds for that. Residents must go offsite to acquire medical marijuana or, if they’re unable to travel easily, the facility will help them arrange for consultations with doctors via Skype and free delivery via the dispensary service Vireo.
For storage of their stash, residents are given lockboxes for which they are responsible. Federal law also prevents staff from administering medical marijuana to residents, so they have to either take it themselves or find a friend or family member to help them out.
The results of MMJ treatment have been positive so far. An article in the journal of the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine studies 10 residents who took medical marijuana for ailments ranging from chronic pain to Parkinson’s to seizures. Patients with seizures saw a drop in the frequency of their seizures from once or twice a week to the same amount in a month. Parkinson’s patients also reported some improvement, but with increased rigidity.
The use of MMJ for chronic pain was also positive, with patients saying they experienced a decrease in pain, which has allowed them to take smaller amounts of opioid painkillers.
The introduction of medical cannabis has also, not unimportantly, made some residents feel a little groovier. One 86-year-old patient told a staff member, “I feel so good that I feel like I could get up and do the Lindy dance!”
Photo via Flickr user Ulrich Joho