Medicinal cannabis could reduce usage of psychotropics, narcotics in LTC residents

Trillium Villa doctor highlights potential benefits of medicinal cannabis to treat residents with chronic conditions
2/7/2018  - Deron Hamel
Trillium Villa attending physician Dr. John O’Mahony and nurse practitioner Oksana Konko.  

Dr. John O’Mahony says an oil enriched with medicinal cannabis to treat pain and other chronic conditions in residents at Trillium Villa may reduce the usage of narcotics and psychotropic medications and also be a path to take when conventional medicine has not worked.

The Sarnia long-term care home recently launched a partnership with Dr. Blake Pearson’s clinic to examine the benefits of prescribing medicinal cannabis to residents with chronic conditions such as pain, sleep disorders and agitation caused by dementia.

Dr. O’Mahony, Trillium Villa’s attending physician, is identifying residents who may benefit from this therapy. Once selected to try the therapy, and after residents and their family members have given consent, nurse practitioner Oksana Konko will write referrals and Dr. Pearson will then write prescriptions.

Residents who choose to try this therapy and obtain a prescription will mostly receive the medicinal marijuana in an oil-based form which can be mixed with food. Capsules may also be used. 

The oil residents will receive will have a higher ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) content to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. CBD is the most abundant, non-psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis. Unlike THC, the most abundant chemical compound in cannabis, CBD will not get people “high.”

Typically, Dr. Pearson says he uses a one-to-three ratio of THC to CBD.

“We are looking at residents who have exhausted all other treatment options or they have not been receptive or responsive to conventional approaches,” Dr. O’Mahony tells S&R Today.

“For others, their families oppose any use of antipsychotics or do not want their loved ones on narcotics. I wouldn’t suggest (medicinal cannabis) as a first line yet on patients, it’s really a fourth-line treatment for pain when we have exhausted the other options.”

Dr. O’Mahony underscores that selecting residents for this treatment is being done slowly and carefully. In some cases, residents’ family members are asking about the treatment.

“We don’t want to be there trying to sell the families on this,” he says. “You want the families’ buy-in from the start, and that really comes from them doing their own research. We are looking at finding the right patients.”

- More to come

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