Do Hospices Support Cannabis?

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by Dan Larkin

Do hospices support the use of cannabis for patients in their care? That’s a tricky question. It’s tricky because some hospices are funded with federal dollars. Cannabis is still illegal federally. So, those hospices have policies against cannabis use within their facilities.

What do hospice professionals say?

But, if you ask hospice professionals personally, what they think about cannabis use for their patients, you’ll get a clear answer. Those professionals; doctors, nurses, administrators, and other trained palliative caregivers largely agree that cannabis can be a good thing for patients who are nearing the end of their life.

“Perhaps palliative care is the most tolerant atmosphere, because of its patient-centered framework, focused on the comfort of the patient. If there is any population that we should consider this for, I think the hospice patient is one that has the strongest compelling reason. And that’s what our results and the hospice staff are telling us.”

Dr. Ryan Constantino of University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy

Cannabis can actually replace painkilling drugs that often leave hospice patients in a mind-muddled fog. Instead, patients can be relaxed, pain-free, but present in their final days.

An anonymous survey of these hospice professionals was conducted recently and over 300 respondents answered questions online about their opinions surrounding medical cannabis use in hospices. The goal of the survey was to gauge their level of comfort with cannabis use in the hospice setting.

They were also asked about what processes and logistics hospice programs are employing when dealing with medical cannabis, and to determine what, if any, education hospice programs are providing to their staff.

Results of hospice support for cannabis survey.

The results of the survey of 310 hospice and palliative care professionals were recently published in the Journal of Palliative Care.  Of those respondents, an amazing 90% said they support using medical cannabis for hospice patients.

Even though the number of hospice professionals who favor it is high, there are still a lot of the hospice doctors who won’t bring up cannabis as a choice for their patients entering a program. They tend to prefer that the patient bring it up.

In fact, of the 36 doctors who responded to the survey, only half have actually approved patients for medical cannabis use while in a hospice program. So, there is more work to be done. The encouraging news is that more and more patients are now asking about cannabis use as part of their end of life experience in a hospice program.


As you face the end of your life, you should have the option to use cannabis. Period. Full Stop. Until federal laws change, it’s up to you and your family members to make the first move. Don’t be afraid to ask and know that, even if they are prohibited from saying so, most of the hospice nurses and other professionals are on your side.

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