For many, medical marijuana is a godsend. When used as a medical treatment, cannabis can make even the most devastating diseases more manageable. However, it is generally not recommended for those with health conditions to seek out cannabis without first consulting their primary care providers, even if cannabis is available on a recreational basis in their state.
Unfortunately, providers aren’t always the easiest to talk to, especially about potentially controversial treatments like cannabis. Patients interested in leveraging the power of cannabis to help treat their health conditions need to be careful with how they go about broaching the subject with their providers. Here’s how to start talking about medical marijuana with any healthcare provider to gain information and understanding.
You don’t need to be a legal expert on cannabis regulations in your area before you consult your healthcare provider about the practicality of using cannabis in your medical treatment, but knowing a bit about your state medical marijuana laws can be helpful for setting your expectations.
For example, many states prohibit all cannabis use, including that for medical treatment. Texas ostensibly has a medical marijuana program, but it only gives participants access to excessively low-THC products. You might take the time to visit a Missouri dispensary and talk to budtenders about your options as a medical marijuana patient. Then again, in some states with recreational cannabis regulations, it might not be more beneficial to apply for a medical marijuana license; if there are no discounts or exclusive access to special products, you might as well pick up retail weed.
During your research, you should pay attention to the requirements for application to your state’s medical-marijuana program. It might be that your primary healthcare provider doesn’t have sufficient qualifications to recommend cannabis treatment in your state. Some states require two or more recommendations. Being aware of the rules for a medical marijuana license application will give you a firmer foundation when you broach the subject with your doctor.
Cannabis comes in many forms. Smoking weed tends to be the most common method of getting cannabis into one’s system, but it can be just as effective to ingest cannabis or absorb cannabis through one’s tissues, as with a transdermal patch or a sublingual tincture. You should take some time to look into the different methods of consuming cannabis to better understand what you feel comfortable with.
Then, when you visit your doctor, you can talk to them about how you hope to take your cannabis treatment. They might have concerns you had not considered; for example, if you have a lung condition, smoking or vaping might pose an unnecessary risk. Still, if you make the effort to understand your options, you will be prepared to have an informed discussion with your provider.
Cannabis isn’t dangerous — to healthy adults. However, the drug can have some negative interactions with certain medications, and it can exacerbate certain medical conditions. When talking about using cannabis as a treatment with your doctor, potential side effects should be a primary concern. Some side effects, like dry mouth, might not be significant enough risks to dissuade you from becoming a medical marijuana patient, but other side effects, like low blood pressure, might keep you away from weed.
Cannabis is a controversial medical treatment, and ultimately, doctors are people with opinions of their own. It is possible that your doctor has a strong moral association with cannabis consumption, which might cause them to refuse to recommend its use even for patients who could see benefits. Then again, plenty of healthcare providers don’t know all that much about the effects of cannabis. If you sense that your provider isn’t listening to your interests or concerns, or if you believe they aren’t fully knowledgeable about the drug, you can always seek a second opinion from another qualified provider. Medical marijuana might be right for you, but you absolutely must talk to your doctor before using cannabis to manage a health condition. Once you get the go-ahead, you can visit a dispensary and start experimenting with different products and dosages — but talking to your doctor must be your first step.