Medical Marijuana and Hospitals

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A couple of years ago while planning for my last book, I learned about how the Arizona DHHS was leveraging social media as they prepared to implement recently passed legislation for use of medical marijuana in the state.

A couple of years ago while planning for my last book, I learned about how the Arizona DHHS was leveraging social media as they prepared to implement recently passed legislation for use of medical marijuana in the state. Things like this always seem to plant the seeds of ideas in me, and the recent planning here in the State of California has prompted some sprouting of thoughts about how hospitals will need to manage the risks of medical marijuana as they attempt to meet the needs and expectations of their patients.  

After I think on a subject for a while; I like to research, write and organize my thoughts.  The result of this started with an article for Multibriefs, titled Finding balance for patients: Hospitals and marijuana; where I explored the risk of ignoring the signs of change — and not creating comprehensive plans and effective strategies. One risk is the possibility of turning up in the news like some of the hospitals listed below. In these, it is clear there was a disconnect between patient needs and hospitals, or their State, that led to sensational headlines and possibly unwanted attention from the media.

Sanford hospital patient denied medical marijuana

Medical Marijuana Saved Our Daughter’s Life

Dying Patient Kicked Out of Hospital for Using Medical Marijuana


Michigan rejects medical marijuana for severe autism

Cannabis Conundrum: Parents Question NJ’s Medical Pot Policies

Some hospitals, such as, Children’s Colorado and Children’s Hospital have taken a lead and proactively addressed their policy, but notice there aren’t any general or adult facilities. As I outline in my Multibrief’s article, there is a starting point for hospital and other provider leaders and it begins with some of the activities outlined below.

“Hospitals, clinics, hospices and other facilities should begin the process of understanding the range of risks and establishing policy that incorporates the legitimate needs of their patients. Actions that can be taken now include the following:

  • Have proactive discussions with key physicians, staff, governing members and community supports.
  • Assess the risk of an early discharge or refusal to treat patients when they are upfront and honest about their desire to continue using their alternative therapies, especially in relation to EMTALA and liability.
  • Review liability insurance policies (malpractice, directors and officers, general liability, etc.).
  • Review agreements related to federal funding, including grants, demonstration projects, etc.
  • Assess the risk of patients sneaking to use their medical marijuana products without the knowledge of their physician or other staff; including drug food/interactions, unanticipated symptoms, unsecured storage, etc.
  • Assess your patient populations to identify those needing more accommodating policies.
  • Recognize existing off-label uses of medication, especially for pediatric patients.
  • Consider assignment of oversight of cannabinoid use to the Institutional Review Board and following investigative drug protocols.
  • Communicate your organization’s policy and procedures to your community and train staff.
  • Present patient and family stories and discuss gaps in legislation with lawmakers.
  • Invite organizations such as the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine to provide category I CME on cannabis, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.”

 Where will you start your organization’s planning?

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