Are you one of nearly 200 million Americans living in one of the 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have a medical marijuana program? As more states climb aboard the cannabis treatment train, more Americans are starting to have the conversation with their doctors about marijuana and whether it is right for them.
Here are five tips to consider when discussing marijuana with your doctor:
1. Honesty is the best policy
Don’t be coy. Don’t underestimate your use. Just shoot straight and provide the most accurate information you can. Remember, 29 state governments say cannabis is LEGAL. You are certainly allowed to have a frank chat with your doctor about your body and what you want to put in it. The conversation may become uncomfortable, but be clear and direct.
A good doctor is an advocate for the patient. Share your consumption habits and history with your doctor. Let him or her know the effects cannabis has on your mental and physical health.
Dr. Sarah T. Melton, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University, underscores this:
“It is important for patients to share details of marijuana use, including the type of marijuana used, route of administration, and frequency of use. Marijuana has potentially serious drug interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medications. By sharing details of marijuana use, the prescriber can best make decisions about medication choices and educate the patient about any potential contraindications or need for monitoring.”
Make a list of the medications you’re currently taking and how they made you feel. How severe are the side effects? Does your cannabis consumption interfere or alleviate these side effects?
Be prepared to ask questions and take notes.
2. Will it help my specific condition?
Let your physician know what ailment or condition you are attempting to medicate with marijuana.
Different states have wildly different qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use. For example, some states allow cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, while other states deny patients for the same ailment. Once again, your doctor may be able to guide you if you have multiple conditions which may require cannabis treatment.
Do a little homework before going to doctor. Do an Internet search and find out which
3. Will there be any side effects?
Depending on what other medications you may be taking, cannabis will have some side effects. Once again, do a little homework before your doctor visit. Since endocannabinoid science is not taught in medical school, your doctor may not be up to speed on the latest research. Sometimes, it helps having a few talking points or research data with you when having the chat.
Also, let your doctor know what your tolerance level is. For some patients, microdosing is sufficient. For other patients suffering more severe pain, a higher dose may be best. But once again, you need to share this with your doctor.
4. What consumption method is for me?
Many doctors will steer patients away from smoking and suggest a healthier method of ingesting cannabis. Vaporization has become more popular among medical marijuana patients. Eating edibles or drinking infused beverages are also a preferred method.
Transdermal patches, tinctures, cannabis pills, lotions and other more medically standard methods are also available for those who prefer not to smoke.
For some patients, the quick-acting attributes of smoking cannabis brings relief when the pain is unbearable.
5. What time of day fits best into my schedule?
Make sure you and your doctor discuss when you typically medicate. For some, cannabis is not an optimal day-time treatment because it may make the patient drowsy. For other patients, cannabis may bring on feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
Once again, sharing honestly with your doctor will help zero in on the correct treatment.
Depending on your relationship with your doctor, and your willingness to have an honest conversation, this could be a difficult task. But, remember: It is legal in more states than not. Your doctor is your advocate. And it is your body.