Dr. Zachary Palace, Medical director at Hebrew Home at Riverdale

A small study by one noted New York provider finds promising results in the use of marijuana to help treat nursing home residents.

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale first launched its “innovative” new cannabis program in 2016. With it, the facility provides educational sessions on the often-misunderstood drug to both residents and their family members. About 10 have participated so far, reporting that cannabis has helped to lessen the severity of chronic pain and reduce opioid dosages, among other benefits, investigators wrote in January’s Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

“There’s a tremendous amount of stigma associated with marijuana in general,” said Zachary Palace, M.D., medical director of Hebrew Home. “But we need to be looking at medical cannabis objectively and recognizing it not from the lens of recreational use. We have to be open-minded.”

Residents reported a lessening in the severity of chronic pain when using cannabis, resulting in lower opioid use. Those with Parkinson’s also reported mild improvement with rigidity, while one patient experienced a “marked reduction” in seizures. 

Authors noted their program is compliant with state and federal rules, including residents purchasing cannabis directly from certified dispensaries.