The Complications of Medical Marijuana in Nursing Homes

Even in states where marijuana has been declared a legitimate therapy and has been legalized, under federal law, it is still illegal. This can place many nursing homes in the unenviable position of deciding to comply with federal law and deny patients prescribed medication, or to allow the therapy and possibly find themselves running afoul of the federal government. With the majority of nursing homes receiving federal money from Medicare and Medicaid, this decision can affect patients who have legal prescriptions, as ABC Action News reports.

Charlotte Simpson resides at Zephyrhills Health and Rehabilitation Center, operated by Adventist Health System, the same company that runs Florida Hospital. She is confined to a wheelchair and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and other ailments.

Her son, Bert Greene, states that when medical marijuana became legal in Florida, his mother obtained a prescription for the drug and also obtained a compassionate use permit. Despite this, Greene reports that Zephyrhills refused to allow Simpson to use the treatment or to administer it while she resides at the facility.

University of South Florida Healthcare President Jay Wolfson says the facility has the right to deny Simpson the use of medical cannabis: “They have the prerogative under medical decision-making and their medical director to say we do not believe that this is something that we want to offer and administer in our facility because there are alternatives, and it’s going to be very difficult to force them to do that.”

The facility sent out a statement saying:

“Our top priority is the care, safety, and comfort of our patients. Like all health care facilities in Florida, and in any other state that permits the use of medical marijuana, we are seeking to balance and comply with the clear prohibitions of federal law with the flexibility afforded under state law.”

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