Emily Wilbert, BS and Bryon Adinoff, MD
In 2018, Ryan Bartell, a 41-y/o Coast Guard Veteran with end-stage pancreatic cancer, was admitted for 24- hour hospice care at MarinHealth Medical Center in Greenbrae, California. Due to chronic, unrelenting pain, Bartell was heavily sedated with opioids and unable to communicate with family, friends, and/or caretakers. Because of the opioid-related cognitive impairment, Ryan’s father requested that Bartell be allowed to use medical cannabis to lessen his need for opioids and allow increased interaction with his family during his final days. Doctors claimed that the use of medicinal cannabis would threaten the hospital’s federal funding (due to the federal prohibition of cannabis) and therefore refused to allow its use . Bartell’s family had him transferred to a hospital in Washington State that allowed the use of medical cannabis. After using cannabis, Bartell was able to cease the use of opioids, remain comfortable, and communicate with his loved ones in his final days.
Wilbert, E., & Adinoff, B. (2023). Legislative and Administrative Guidelines for Regulating Cannabis Use in Healthcare Facilities A DFCR White Paper.