Cannabis in Long Term Care

On October 17, 2018 recreational cannabis use became legal in Canada. In addition to federal legislation, there are further restrictions imposed by provincial governments. Information from the federal government can be found here.

Northwood is committed to providing a safe comfortable environment for people who live in our communal living facilities.  We are required to adhere to all legislation and licensing requirements.

Residents’ dignity and choice are important to us and we must balance the rights to smoke with the responsibility to ensure the safety of members of the Northwood community.

The smoking or vaping of cannabis on Northwood property is prohibited. It is also prohibited on HRM property, including sidewalks and roadways. There are designated areas on HRM property where smoking (tobacco and cannabis) is permitted. You can find locations close to Northwood here.

Storage of cannabis (dry or oil):  Recreational cannabis, purchased only through NSLC, can be stored securely in a resident’s personal locked areas within their room. There is a prior assessment and contract required to enable residents to safely store cannabis and to ensure that the person is able to guarantee the cannabis remains securely stored, away from access by others, at all times. Staff are prohibited from assisting with the administration or use of recreational cannabis in any way.

There is much we don’t yet understand about cannabis, including how it interacts with different types of prescription drugs and medical treatments. There are also reports that warn that cannabis can have potential effects on mental health; frequent use of the drug has been linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and suicide.

It’s important to remember that while recreational cannabis is legal, it is not harmless, nor is it a cure-all or miracle drug. There are reports on cannabis use that show health risks, including lung damage, dependency (addiction) and cognitive effects such as reduced memory, concentration and decision-making ability. Cannabis decreases blood pressure, which can cause fainting, and it also increases heart rate, which may pose additional risks for people who have a heart condition.

Residents who wish to use cannabis are required to advise the health care team to determine the potential risks or interactions with any other medications and treatments they are currently prescribed. Visitors are asked not to bring cannabis into the facility for residents without ensuring it can be safely stored and not contraindicated with other medications. We ask that a conversation with the attending physician occur. Cannabis will not be permitted to be stored by residents without consultation with the health care team. Residents will be monitored for potential effects when using recreational cannabis including the safe use of mobility devices.

We continue to adapt to this new legislation and this includes us reviewing our policies and procedures on an ongoing basis.

The following website resources are available for your review: