America’s first and oldest hospice, the Connecticut Hospice, opened their doors in 1974. For over 40 years they’ve been dedicated to the emotional, spiritual, and social needs of their patients. They’ve recently made a new promise in providing the best quality of life for the terminally ill . For almost six months, the oldest US hospice medical marijuana study has used cannabis over opiates to treat pain in patients who volunteered.

Committed to “ever constant, ever changing” care, the Connecticut Hospice is known for their high level of quality care.  Their patients are typically terminally ill. They provide amenities like pet therapy and in-bed promenade strolls on immaculate grounds that border the Block Islands Sound. And since May, part of their evolutionary care involves treating patients with medical marijuana.

Connecticut Hospice Medical Marijuana Study…Can Medical Cannabis Be Used Instead of Opiates to Treat Pain?

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012, and is quickly becoming a medical state that is apt to change the way conventional medicine is regarded. Connecticut Hospice is a big part of this, with the hospice medical marijuana study to supplement opiate painkillers with medical marijuana. This is one of several studies that are highlighting that medical marijuana could cure the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the US.

It’s no secret that America is in the midst of the worst opioid crisis ever seen. Prescription painkillers are commonly handed out like candy, and so much so that there were 20,101 painkiller overdose deaths in 2015. Connecticut is no stranger to the growing opioid epidemic…or the death rate associated with it. In 2012, 100 people died from heroin addiction. Three years later, this number had jumped to 400 in 2015.

With heroin addiction to be largely fueled by opiate addiction, Connecticut Hospice is looking to change the way pain is treated. Research for the hospice medical marijuana study was approved in 2016, and the study began in May 2017. It’s scheduled for completion in November 2017.

Hospice Medical Marijuana Study to Answer the Following Questions

As part of the study, researchers at the Connecticut Hospice aspire to answer the two following key questions:

  1. Does medical marijuana change the pain scores reported by hospice patients? By how much?
  2. Does medical marijuana reduce the food and digestion-related side effects of narcotic painkillers?
  • Does it relieve nausea and vomiting caused by pain medication?
  • Does it improve reduced appetite caused by pain medication?

Other key questions the study aims to answer include:

  • Can medical marijuana reduce symptoms of depression?
  • Can medical marijuana improve a patient’s quality of life?
  • How does each element of medical marijuana impact the patient’s treatment?

The study is being conducted on 65 patients, all facing terminal illness. Each patient receives a capsule containing medical cannabis administered by nurses three times daily, for a five-day period. Patients are then asked a series of questions about their quality of life and other aspects of their treatment every eight hours over the five-day period.

With the study concluding in November, results should be published sometime in 2018. Researchers behind the study aim to show the positive impact medical cannabis can have on their patients, as well as highlight (once again) how effective medical cannabis can be when used in place of prescription painkillers.

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