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Writing a position paper on how medical marijuana should be available to residents in nursing homes to alleviate pain?


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With so many states legalizing marijuana, whether recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, or both, the idea that medical marijuana is still being withheld from many patients, including nursing home residents, who are experiencing pain and could get relief from the treatment is ridiculous.  Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, however, and this complicates it usage for pain in nursing homes. That is because many people in nursing homes are dependent upon both state and federal aid for their medical care and there could be issues with funding if they were treated with medical marijuana.   

It is well-established that marijuana is not a physically addictive drug in the same way that other pain relievers, such as opioids, are physically addictive, though it does have some signs of physical addiction.  While a person using marijuana may experience some negative side-effects associated with discontinued use, withdrawal is neither painful nor dangerous.  In addition, while a person using marijuana may develop tolerance, there are not physical risks associated with increased use that make that tolerance particularly dangerous. Furthermore, there is an ethical question about whether the fear of addiction is a legitimate concern when discussing pain relief options for people who are in nursing homes and are, presumably, at the end stages of life.  Is it acceptable to suggest that those people should be in pain rather than risk addiction to a drug that is only mildly physically addictive, anyway? 

Studies are continuing to verify what many people have suspected for generations: marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain.  Moreover, while the independent compounds in marijuana, notably cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both known to be effective pain relievers, when they are combined together the interaction effect is greater than simply the additive effect of the two separate compounds.  They have been effective at treating a range of different types of pain, including neuropathy, which is particularly prevalent among older people. 

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