Hospice Care and the Medical Marijuana Bill

Though medicinal marijuana will soon be lawful in certain states, physicians say it will have little to no effect on their day-to-day functions. Whether dealing with sufferers in hospice care or those with HIV or AIDS, hospice care providers do not see marijuana becoming one of their go-to medication. Barbara Lafrante, a health professional and director of hospice and palliative care with Home Health & Hospice in Merrimack, said there are already drugs on the market that provide the same advantages that marijuana is said to have. Lafrante, who rests on the New Hampshire Hospice and Palliative Care Association, recommended “Marinol,” an artificial cannibanoid, which provides identical outcomes. She said most physicians will convert to that medication because it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We have a lot of drugs currently, you know, that we use to provide control for our sufferers,” Lafrante said. “Our sufferers are well-palliated when we use Marinol, an FDA-approved type. And we hardly ever need that.” In an organization where Lafrante said she recognizes about 80 to 100 sufferers weekly with six months or less to live, Home Health & Hospice’s guarantee is to remove the discomfort within 48 hours. “Comfort is the concern,” she said. Wendy LeBlanc, vice chairman of the Southern New Hampshire HIV/AIDS Task Force based in Nashua, said this bill will have little effect on individuals she works with, as well. Using marijuana to fight the devastating outcomes of AIDS is less common than it once was, LeBlanc said. And thanks to new medication and therapies, many HIV and AIDS sufferers do not get as fed up as they once did and some of the drugs used to cure the illness do not come with the same side-effects, like nausea and fatigue, she included.

hospicecare“It was much more commonly known and approved because individuals did not have a hunger and it certainly assisted,” she said. “Traditional drugs have enhanced for individuals living with HIV, especially for individuals clinically diagnosed more recently.” Dr. Karen Baranowski, president and CEO of Home Health & Hospice said for her, the choice to recommend sufferers marijuana is up to their physicians, but she did not see that becoming a large source for them in the long run. “If it’s appropriate for the individual, they will use the FDA Marinol more regularly, I would think about,” she said. People who do depend on the drug often hesitate to discuss it, LeBlanc outlined. The discussion is even restricted among physicians and medical employees. LeBlanc said she knows of just two individuals who recognize using marijuana to help fight their signs.

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