The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has created some interesting challenges for the senior living industry, only further complicated by the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington State.
With state and federal laws clashing in states which have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, senior living operators in these states must carefully craft policies to minimize legal risk. And that, it seems, is no simple matter.
While the Obama Administration has taken the stance that the federal government will not—and federal prosecutors should not—penalize prescribing physicians or approved patients or caregivers in states which have passed laws legalizing marijuana, it's unclear what the future holds and presently, the government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. That means it's deemed to have a high potential for addiction and has "no currently accepted medical use."
Senior living providers are taking approaches ranging across the spectrum, with some permitting the use of medicinal marijuana but not centrally storing or dispensing it as they would another prescription medication. In this case, residents using marijuana for medicinal purposes must have a caregiver who can assist and obtain it via a third-party, outpatient provider -- but these circumstances aren't free of obstacles, either.
For some providers, the risk is too great to take, and they opt to prohibit the use of medical marijuana within their communities altogether to play it safe.It's an interesting landscape that's sure to change in the coming years, and will likely be a heavily-debated issue in the next presidential election. Until then, the policies of individual senior living providers are the determining factor in whether it's possible to use marijuana for medical purposes as a resident in a senior living community.
For more on this widely-debated issue and where the current regulations stand, check out our article on the impacts of the legalization of marijuana on the senior living industry.