Cannabis for Terminally Ill Patients

Describe how terminally ill patients can use cannabis to improve their quality of life until the end, with a brief history of how cannabis has been used to help patients with terminally ill diseases. 

Terminally ill is not something you want to hear from your doctor, but can sometimes be inevitable. Terminally ill means there is no cure, and the only certainty for the patient is that they will die. Sometimes a terminally ill diagnosis can still mean years of life, and other times it can mean mere months or less. For many, this time can be very difficult, and present a wide range of emotional symptoms brought on by having to face our mortality. This overwhelming reality is added on top of any physical symptoms they may already be experiencing from their illness to begin with.

With so much to deal with, how can someone who is terminally ill find relief? This is often the work of hospice workers. Hospice is a branch of healthcare that focuses on providing relief from symptoms caused by the illness, and the grief of knowing your fate. Many hospice workers and terminally ill patients swear by the benefits of cannabis. They say cannabis is able to provide that relief by easing suffering and science is supporting it.

One study looked at how well integrating cannabinoid medicine into the palliative care of cancer patients would work. The results were very positive. They concluded that adding medicinal cannabis to the care of terminally ill patients “promises to improve overall health related quality of life, to provide further relief from distressing symptoms and spiritual suffering, and to bring hope to patients and families facing terminal illness”.

This means cannabis seems to be able to effectively ease the symptoms associated with their disease, as well as coming to grip with the ending of their life. It does this by increasing comfort and reducing symptoms to provide a better quality of life leading up to the end. It is effective at reducing pain, which is common symptom of many terminal illnesses. The mood boosting benefits of cannabis, and the euphoric high feeling caused by THC, can create a positive sense of wellbeing, which can help terminally ill patients find peace in the process.

Medical cannabis has been approved for use in many state hospice programs, and having a terminal illness is a qualifying condition for medical cannabis in several states, including Missouri. If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, talk with your physician about how to become a medical cannabis patient, or if medical cannabis should be considered as part of your plan.

If you happen to have a loved one, or friend, who has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, consider asking them if they’ve thought about trying cannabis. Support from friends and family is extremely important during such a difficult time. With over two thirds of Americans supporting cannabis legalization, it could be because we want to see our friends and family who may be suffering from a medical condition, get relief from their symptoms, especially when the diagnosis is terminal. 

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