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How Do You Bring Up Medical Marijuana to Your Doctor?

If you or anyone in your family are suffering from chronic pain or a longstanding disorder, and have found little to no relief with traditional treatments or prescribed medications, perhaps you may be thinking about medical cannabis as an alternative treatment.

It’s certainly a valid option that has been used by many civilizations around the world. Now more than ever, medical marijuana is made more available for the treatment of serious and chronic medical conditions. In addition to the growing number of states approving cannabis for medicinal purposes, more and more scientific studies and anecdotes proclaim the herb’s health benefits.

But medical cannabis laws vary from state to state, and the substance itself is still a subject of legal and medical controversy. These may make it difficult for you to bring up the subject of medical cannabis to your personal doctor or general practitioner.

So how would one approach the topic of medical cannabis? By knowing that, first and foremost, it is your right as a patient to discuss all treatment options available with your doctor or medical professional.  Federal courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects doctors in the discussion of medical cannabis and recommending it to their patients, and there is nothing wrong for you as a patient to bring it up as a treatment option – especially when all other treatments have failed or proven ineffective in managing your condition. Be frank, be inquisitive, be forthright – but never hesitant. This is your health you’re dealing with, after all.

With this in mind, here are some things for you to do or consider before bringing up the matter of medical marijuana to your healthcare provider:

  • Understand your state’s requirements regarding the legal paperwork. Before anything else, consult the laws of your state about medical cannabis. Seek out required forms, fill them out, and have them authorized.  Consult a legal expert if necessary. Access to medical cannabis is a serious matter, and it’s a huge win in your favor to have every requirement met. Don’t forget to bring your papers along with you on your doctor’s visit.
  • Be prepared to explain your condition at length, including the past treatments that have failed to manage your condition, with your doctor. Be upfront and honest about your condition, your understanding of it, and how your current treatment plan is not being effective in handling your symptoms. Prepare to prove it to your doctor with evidence – past medical records, prescription notes, disability forms, and results from checkups or diagnosis – basically all you can bring along with you. You need to prove that you’ve exhausted every effort in treating your condition through traditional means.
  • Be prepared to show evidence that medical cannabis is a valid treatment option for your condition. There’s a good chance your physician may be skeptical of medical cannabis as a means of treating your condition, so make sure you have printed and legible evidence to back your assertions up. Look up studies and news articles of patients with your condition who have been treated with medical cannabis, and go for the most neutral sources if you can(a Mayo Clinic article may help, while an article from pro-cannabis websites may not). Showing that you understand the side effects that may come up with the usage of medical marijuana will also help.
  • Ask for a written recommendation. If everything goes well and your doctor is convinced, then the next step is to ask for a written recommendation for treatment using medical cannabis. This should help you gain lawful and legal access.

In the off-chance that your doctor does not recommend medical cannabis for you, don’t lose hope and don’t lose your temper. Some physicians may simply consider themselves uninformed about the benefits of medical cannabis treatment and are reluctant to recommend it. In this case, simply ask them to refer you to another practitioner or specialist. You can also use online resources to track down doctors who specialize in medical cannabis treatment near your area.

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