Navigating the Highs and Lows: Marijuana Use in Hospice Care

Navigating the Highs and Lows: Marijuana Use in Hospice Care

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in exploring alternative therapies for patients in hospice care, and one such option that has gained attention is the use of marijuana. This controversial topic raises important questions about the potential risks and benefits associated with integrating marijuana into end-of-life care. In this blog, we will delve into the complexities surrounding marijuana use in hospice settings, considering both the potential advantages and drawbacks.

Benefits of Marijuana in Hospice Care

  1. Pain Management: One of the primary reasons marijuana is considered in hospice care is its potential to alleviate pain. The cannabinoids in marijuana, particularly THC and CBD, have been shown to have analgesic properties, providing relief for patients grappling with chronic pain associated with terminal illnesses.
  2. Appetite Stimulation: Patients in hospice care often face challenges such as loss of appetite and weight loss. Marijuana has been known to stimulate appetite, commonly referred to as the “munchies.” This effect can be particularly beneficial for patients who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight during their final stages of life.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting Control: Cancer treatments and certain illnesses can induce severe nausea and vomiting. Marijuana, especially strains rich in CBD, has demonstrated antiemetic properties that can help alleviate these distressing symptoms, improving the overall quality of life for patients.
  4. Anxiety and Depression Relief: Facing the end of life can be emotionally challenging for both patients and their families. Marijuana has shown promise in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, offering a sense of calm and tranquility during a difficult time.

Risks of Marijuana in Hospice Care

  1. Cognitive Impairment: One of the well-known side effects of marijuana use is cognitive impairment. In hospice care, where maintaining clarity of thought and communication is crucial, the potential for marijuana to cause confusion and memory issues may be a concern.
  2. Respiratory Issues: Smoking marijuana can have adverse effects on the respiratory system, which is especially problematic for patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Alternative methods of consumption, such as edibles or tinctures, may be considered to mitigate this risk.
  3. Drug Interactions: Marijuana can interact with other medications, potentially altering their effectiveness or intensifying side effects. Hospice patients often take multiple medications, and the introduction of marijuana should be carefully monitored to prevent any adverse interactions.
  4. Legal and Ethical Considerations: The legal status of marijuana varies globally and even within certain regions. Hospice care providers must navigate complex legal and ethical landscapes when considering marijuana as part of a patient’s treatment plan.


The integration of marijuana into hospice care remains a nuanced and controversial topic, with both potential benefits and risks. While it has shown promise in addressing pain, appetite loss, and emotional distress, concerns about cognitive impairment, respiratory issues, drug interactions, and legal considerations must be carefully weighed.

Open communication between healthcare providers, patients, and their families is paramount to ensure that any decision aligns with the patient’s overall well-being and end-of-life goals. As the landscape of medical marijuana evolves, ongoing research and a compassionate approach to care will help guide its appropriate use in hospice settings.

Could hospice be a hopeful word

Could hospice be a hopeful word

Outside my office door right now, a group is meeting and discussing what they miss about their loved ones. There is a reality that everyone dies and that everyone who has ever loved will grieve. So if that is the inevitable, how is hospice shifting the way we treat the dying days?  The mere mention of the word “hospice” can evoke fear and discomfort in many individuals. Often misunderstood, hospice care is a critical and compassionate approach to end-of-life care that prioritizes the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of patients and their families. In this blog, we aim to dispel common misconceptions and shed light on the true essence of hospice care. 

Hospice does not hasten death:

Hospice care does not aim to hasten or postpone death. Instead, it provides comprehensive support to enhance the quality of life during the natural progression of a terminal illness. The focus on comfort and symptom management helps patients experience a peaceful and dignified end-of-life journey.

Hospice is about living fully until the end:

What if you knew you only had days to live? Would you treasure that time? Contrary to the belief that hospice care is a place where people go to die, it is fundamentally about helping individuals live their remaining days to the fullest extent possible. Hospice professionals work collaboratively with patients and their families to manage symptoms, control pain, and promote emotional well-being, enabling patients to cherish meaningful moments with loved ones.

Individualized care plans:

Hospice care is highly individualized, tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of each patient. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a comprehensive plan that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of end-of-life care. This personalized approach ensures that patients receive the support and comfort that aligns with their values and goals.

Family-centered support:

Hospice care extends beyond the patient to embrace their family members. The focus is on creating a supportive environment that helps families navigate the complexities of terminal illness, providing counseling, education, and practical assistance. The goal is to empower families to cope with the emotional challenges they may face during this difficult time.

Dignity and comfort are priorities:

Maintaining a patient’s dignity and ensuring their comfort are at the core of hospice care. The interdisciplinary team, which may include physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers, collaborates to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. This holistic approach fosters an atmosphere of respect and compassion.

In dispelling the fear surrounding the word “hospice,” it is crucial to recognize the compassionate and person-centered nature of hospice care. By understanding that hospice is about celebrating life, providing comfort, and supporting families, we can shift the narrative and encourage open conversations about end-of-life care. Choosing hospice is not a surrender but a decision to embrace a holistic and dignified approach to the final chapter of life’s journey.