“I think for me, it’s making sure we recognize that Floridians have said that marijuana is a medicine and that we treat it as such,” the St. Petersburg Republican said. “That means we keep it as available as an option.”
Weiner, the doctor who prescribed medical cannabis to Crouse’s mother, travels to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to speak about how the elderly can benefit from marijuana treatments.
Since she started recommending cannabis two years ago, she says she’s weaned over 150 patients off opioids and onto medical marijuana instead. The older patients, however, are “totally screwed” by the fact that cannabis is still a federally restricted drug.
“They’re too old to remember to take the medication and nurses can’t give it to them by law. They’re at a loss, and the cost is an issue,” she said. “How does a 90-year-old know to call a company every month and get it shipped to them?”
Weiner said she also recommends cannabinoid oil or CBD, which is now legal under the 2018 Farm Bill that Congress passed in December. Florida, however, has not yet incorporated the federal statute into state law, and CBD products remain illegal. Therefore, most facilities won’t administer CBD treatment or even allow patients to take it on their own.
“[The elderly] are over-medicated, they have so many side effects from medications that cause dizziness, constipation, cognitive confusion,” Weiner said. “[Marijuana or CBD] would be a great way to substitute it for other pharmaceuticals. Until Florida incorporates what just passed in the Farm Bill into this law … it’s still in a waiting zone.”
Tya Eachus met Weiner when she was giving a talk on CBD at The Palace, a Kendall assisted living facility where Eachus’ mother was living.
Eachus became interested in the treatment and researched the many ways it would help her 92-year-old mother.
The Palace refused to administer CBD oil, a rule Eachus has been fighting for months. She recently filed a complaint with the state’s Agency For Health Care Administration against the rules that keep facilities from administering CBD.
Eachus, who lives in Kendall, is in the process of moving her mother from The Palace to a facility in Aventura where she will pay a private contractor $300 a month to administer CBD oil and check her mother’s blood pressure, since she can get this products from different sites online, you can learn more from Discount Pharms here.
“If they would allow it, the residents would be relaxed and more comfortable in their surroundings, and it would be a more pleasant experience for everybody,” Eachus said. “They’re impeding my mother’s well being by not allowing her to have it.
She mainly focuses on independent, private-pay facilities that have more flexibility in what they can allow. She hopes to be a voice for elderly residents who “are not going to be vocal about what’s missing for them.”
Cannella-Krehl, a regular presence at legislative committee meetings, is pushing for a provision that would make facilities able to have caregiver status. As of now, each medical marijuana patient is allowed one registered caregiver who has the ability to purchase and administer the drug on behalf of the patient.
“How realistic is it to expect a son, a daughter or non-family member to come to a facility to administer the medication, two, three, four times a day? It’s unrealistic,” she said. “The unintended consequence is that the elders who can benefit greatly have no access.”
Crouse knew this expectation all too well. When his mother was in a nursing home, he had to go three times a day to administer the drug. His mother has been in an assisted living facility for a little over a year, where they will administer the drug for him. But he has to be the one to purchase it, and he gives the assisted living facility two-month supplies ($600 worth) when they start to run low.
He pays in cash and he does a lot of driving, but says it’s all been worth it.
“My mother is off all the opiates. She has less anxiety, her pain is dramatically reduced,” he said. “Her depression is gone and she’s the socialite of the facility. She talks more and is able to communicate better. I’m a steadfast one … when you’re the son you’re kind of there for the long haul.”