Valley hospice to be first in state to provide medical marijuana to patients

PHOENIX - A Valley hospice is taking new steps to care for its patients. It will be the first in the state to use medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana is tightly regulated by the state of Arizona, so Comprehensive Hospice , based in Phoenix, had to get registered and train its employees.

The next step was finding patients who are willing to give it a try-- and who qualify to use it.

It's not easy for 78-year-old Rafael Samaniego to get around anymore.

Samaniego suffers from end stage cardiovascular disease and neuropathy in his legs.

“It's a lot of pain that goes all the way down to my feet down to here,” he said.

He's tried everything to make it go away.

“I've tried medications and that don't help,” he said.

Now, as a patient at Comprehensive Hospice, he's considering trying medical marijuana.

“I need something to take this pain away from me, please,” Samaniego said.

Dr. Margaret King is screening possible patients like him for their new program.

She’s going over possible benefits and risks of using medical marijuana.

Dr. King says it can give patients more energy and comfort.

“Pain relief is where I think we're going to see our biggest call for this medication,” she said.

But there are some risks. Dr. King says it can be habit forming for about 10 percent of patients. And it can create anxiety and increased heart rate.

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