If you’re living with chronic pain associated with a medical condition, finding safe, effective treatment to help control your pain is a challenge. But along with that, choosing to discuss using medicinal cannabis to treat your pain can also be a challenge. The use of marijuana whether for medicinal or recreational purposes is still steeped in controversy and skepticism.
When it comes to marijuana, many patients—especially older ones, have a negative view of marijuana in any form, even when it’s used for medicinal purposes. Until the opioid crisis and the widespread addiction to opioid medications became front-page news, patients and the doctors alike tended to dismiss marijuana’s potential as a safe, non-toxic alternative medicine.
Get beyond the fear of discussion:
If you want to bring up the subject with your doctor about taking medicinal cannabis for any qualified medical condition that’s been approved for treatment, know that it is not illegal to do so!
In the 2002 court case, Connant v. Walters, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made the pronouncement that doctors and patients have the right to discuss and exchange information regarding the use of medicinal cannabis for therapeutic benefit1. The exchange of ideas for the purposes of uncovering different methods and means of treating a medical condition with cannabis shouldn’t be any different from discussing treatments and options using traditional medications.
In all cases, you have the right to receive and share information with your doctor — and it’s no less a protection you’re entitled to than your First Amendment right to free speech. Be sure to be knowledgeable about what’s required in your state to get registered for medicinal cannabis treatment.
Educating your doctor:
In many cases, doctors don’t always have information to help their patients determine the benefits of using medicinal cannabis to treat their medical condition, or are knowledgeable about the laws in their state or region if medicinal cannabis is legal.
In talking to your doctor about using medicinal cannabis, discuss your condition and/or symptoms. Show them any records you might have related to your symptoms or medical condition. If you’ve already begun using cannabis as a treatment, bring any documents to show how much cannabis you use, frequency of use, date you started taking it, and how you administer it2.
In some cases, you might discover that your doctor is apprehensive that they could get in trouble with their medical association, clinic or hospital, or put their medical career in jeopardy for discussing the subject of marijuana use. If you find this to be a legitimate concern, you may want or need to seek the services of a physician who’s a specialist in medicinal cannabis therapy.
You’ll feel more empowered and confident about your treatment if you can get as much information as you can to help manage your illness. Some questions you might want to ask your physician or specialist about using medicinal cannabis as they apply to your condition could include:
- Are you aware of any relevant medical studies that involve the use of medicinal cannabis to treat my symptoms?
- What kind of healthcare costs may I encounter if I choose to supplement my prescribed medication treatments with medicinal cannabis?
- Are there potentially dangerous drug interactions I should know about if I get treated with medicinal cannabis?
- Will there be a problem with second-hand smoke from cannabis if it’s around my children and pets?
- What activities should I change or avoid if I start taking medicinal cannabis?
- If I’m pregnant and/or breastfeeding, should I avoid taking medicinal cannabis?
- Will medical cannabis reduce the effectiveness of my other medications?
- What other sources of information are there to learn more about medical cannabis?
Have the talk now:
Start with your primary care physician in discussing your needs and desire for alternative treatment with medicinal cannabis if traditional medications aren’t helping you to feel better and live life without crippling pain and discomfort.
Also ask if they can refer you to a medicinal cannabis specialist. You’ll want to get a clear understanding of your options and what the benefits and risks are of treatment so that if your quality of life has been impacted by debilitating medical conditions you’ll be able to get things in motion as soon as possible to start feeling better!