How To Talk With Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

Let’s not beat around the bush (no pun intended) – cannabis is still a controversial subject even though it’s decriminalized or legalized for medical or recreational use in over half of the states across the U.S. As a result, talking with your doctor about medical cannabis isn’t always the easiest task.

It can be difficult to navigate through all the information out there on the subject now that research is becoming more acceptable and widespread. Fortunately, we have the answers to walk you through how to talk with your doctor about medical cannabis, what medical marijuana is, and more in-depth details you may need to know on the subject. Let’s dive in and further help remove the stigma surrounding the cannabis industry, empowering you to ask the right questions and feel confident in your treatment decisions.

What is medical cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant that has been shown to potentially ease a variety of ailments and conditions. There are over 545 chemical compounds in the plant, and of those compounds, 104 are cannabinoids. Of those 104 cannabinoids, there is THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and there’s also CBD, which is the non-psychoactive alternative. While THC is the active ingredient that can give you a “high” feeling, both THC and CBD are considered to have medicinal uses. Different strains of the plant can provide different specific effects, but cannabis works by communicating with the endocannabinoid system in the human body.

Can my doctor recommend medical marijuana?

As marijuana is still federally classified as a Schedule I drug, even though medical cannabis is legal in 29 states and recreationally in more, doctors may not necessarily be educated on this subject. If you are in a legal state where you can acquire medical cannabis, your doctor may be legally allowed to recommend cannabis for you – however, they are not able to prescribe you marijuana. A recommendation allows you to obtain a medical cannabis card in order to legally access cannabis in dispensaries across your legal state.

Do your homework

Before you consider talking with your doctor about the subject, do your homework on the matter at hand. Know the legal rights for your state so that you can be your own best advocate. Since the subject is still so fresh, with cannabis still being legalized across states in the country, anticipate that you may have a doctor who’s more resistant to the idea of medical cannabis than some other physicians may be.

Fortunately, if you live in a state where it’s legal medically or recreationally, you have the right to work with a doctor who can better collaborate with you on the type of healthcare and treatments you need. While you should absolutely reach out to your primary physician first, if they’re hesitant or resistant to the idea, know that you have other options out there.

What can cannabis treat?

Now that you know your legal rights for being in a state where it is legalized medicinally or recreationally, it’s time to understand if your condition or symptoms are on the list of being approved for cannabis as a treatment. However, it is important to note that because cannabis is only seen as treatment for two rare forms of epilepsy on a federal level, we’re only mentioning the qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana patient in California. If you live in another state where medicinal use is legal, please consult your local and state guidelines for which conditions and symptoms qualify for you.

In California, cannabis can be used to treat symptoms or overall cancer, migraines, arthritis, glaucoma, seizures, severe nausea, persistent muscle spasms, cachexia, spasticity, chronic pain, AIDS, and a wide variety of other conditions or symptoms that may fall into qualification.

How to bring up the subject to your doctor

Knowing that your primary physician may be able to recommend you a plant instead of an opioid for the same ailment, now it’s a matter of how to broach the topic with them. The most important thing to remember going into a discussion with your doctor on a potential medical treatment is to be honest. You can trust in patient-doctor confidentiality and communicate openly with them to get the best recommendation possible.

If you’re already consuming cannabis in some way, or you’re wanting to try it, communicate with your doctor and come up with the next steps together. Be serious when you cultivate the conversation and understand going in that cannabis potentially has a series of medical benefits.

Consuming in different ways

Before speaking with your doctor, know the ways you can consume cannabis products other than just smoking it out of various pieces or papers. As smoking can be harsh and cause coughing, there are easier or gentler options to approach. There are topicals, concentrates that can be dropped under your tongue, edibles, vaporizers, and more. Research which one might be the best option for you so that you can present the idea to your doctor at the appointment.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Even though you should do research prior to a doctor’s appointment for the subject, make sure you ask your doctor plenty of questions as well. Find out their professional opinion on the subject, find out if some of their other patients have used it before with success, and find out their experience overall. While they’ll have to be confidential when they provide certain details, they may be able to clear up any doubts or concerns you have about how cannabis may affect you, your current treatment plan, or your condition or ailment.

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