A bill that would enable some hospice patients in North Dakota to “self-certify” for medical cannabis is awaiting Governor Burgum’s signature.
Accessing medical cannabis at the best of times can be a difficult process in some jurisdictions. For patients who are at the stage of going into hospice care, the red tape can make it impossible as they just can’t physically or mentally cope with the process.
But in North Dakota it could soon become a bit easier, thanks to legislation from Rep. Mary Schneider (D) that cleared the Senate unanimously in a 45-0 vote last week and has now headed to the desk of Governor Doug Burgum.
Rep. Schneider’s championing of House Bill 1478 was triggered by personal experience. She was carer for her husband, a cancer patient. By the time Rep. Schneider’s husband thought medical marijuana would be worth serious consideration for managing his pain, he was already very sick and unable to undertake the usual processes for gaining access.
Rep. Schneider noted that when her husband finally received approval, the medical marijuana often gave him the best relief and improved his appetite. He passed away two months later, and could have had a longer period with better quality of life if he had been able to be certified earlier.
“I don’t use any drugs or marijuana, and I don’t know why it worked for severe cancer pain or why it improved appetite, but I would want for others the assistance that medical marijuana gave Mark,” said Rep Schneider earlier this month.
Under HB 1478, terminally ill patients entering into hospice care would be able to use proof of admittance instead of having to seek a doctor’s written recommendation. The application fee would be waived and the Division of Medical Marijuana would be required to issue a cannabis card within 14 days of receiving the documentation.
“House Bill 1478 was just a little bill when it started and is much smaller now,” said Rep Schneider. “I do not know if it will help a lot of people, but it could help some very vulnerable people who need some support.”
Governor Burgum is expected to sign HB 1478 into law.