When should I talk to my doctor about medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana is one of the hottest topics in healthcare today. While many individuals feel that cannabis should be illegal, others believe that like other plant-based products, marijuana has a purpose and should be used as a treatment when all other methods fail. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, there is no denying that individuals who are suffering from some of the worst illnesses imaginable can benefit from the psychoactive properties of this plant.

What is medical marijuana?What is medical marijuana?

For hundreds of years, cannabis was used in both religious ceremonies and medical treatment. While most individuals used it in moderation, there were always those who enjoyed the “high” they got from marijuana. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the public’s perception changed, and marijuana was eventually criminalized despite the obvious benefits.

Since that time, knowledgeable individuals and countless doctors lobbied to allow patients suffering from drug-resistant ailments, the option to use cannabis as a form of medical treatment. In 1996 California became the first state to successfully change the laws paving the way for thousands of patients suffering from such diseases as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV/AIDS to choose cannabis for medical purposes. To date, almost half of the states have followed California’s example with dozens more debating to do the same.  Unfortunately, on the federal level, cannabis is still considered a schedule 1 drug and is illegal.

Conditions that can benefit from medical marijuana

Several diseases can benefit from medical marijuana, but it depends on which state the patient resides if their condition is on the approved list. While most states approve such ailments as cancer and epilepsy others such as ADHD or anxiety may not be approved for cannabis treatment. However, many jurisdictions have decided that such decisions should be made by a patient and their medical practitioner.  In New York, the covered conditions are:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • AnorexiaConditions that can benefit from medical marijuana
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health

When to talk to your doctor about cannabis?When to talk to your doctor about cannabis?

If you are suffering from any chronic ailment, and are not getting relief from traditional medications, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment methods. While not all physicians will recommend medical marijuana, they are the most qualified when it comes to your illness. There are a few things to keep in mind when discussing medical use:

  • Be honest and direct. Patients are always their own best advocate. Those that have never used should come to their appointment with any information regarding medical marijuana and their condition. Knowing how other patients responded to treatment, and any studies conducted can help you talk to your doctor.
  • Share as much information as possible. Talking with your doctor about prior marijuana use cannot get you into legal trouble; doctors must keep this information confidential. Be prepared to discuss the strain(s) as well as the consumption method used and how it has helped with your symptoms.
  • Ask your doctor questions. Some medications can be affected by cannabis or vice versa, knowing they may interact can help prevent more severe complications.
  • Know when to move on. While more doctors than ever before are comfortable with recommending cannabis, not all agree with its use. If your practitioner is unwilling or unable to help you find an effective treatment method, regardless if it includes cannabis or some other alternative treatment, seek a second opinion. Only you know how your illness affects your daily life, working with someone who offers a non-judgmental, open-minded approach to healthcare is your right.

Who can recommend medical marijuana?

Each state has implemented qualifications for medical marijuana. In New York, licensed practitioners can recommend cannabis use for specific conditions. If approved, the patient’s information will be entered into the state’s database, and a medical use card will be issued. If your doctor can not recommend medical marijuana, patients can seek help from an online provider.

Telemedicine is one of the newest tools in healthcare. Through virtual technology, patients can communicate with a licensed provider that can recommend medical marijuana. Patients will still need to submit their medical records that may include documentation of their disorder and any diagnostic tests, including x-rays or MRIs. Once reviewed, the provider can submit the required documentation, just like any other medical provider.

If your current treatment method isn’t working, talk to a qualified medical marijuana doctor today. Not only can they determine your eligibility, but they can also explain the benefits and risks of this powerful medication.

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