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How to Talk to Your Doctor or Health Care Provider about Cannabis

Despite being legal in 29 states (8 for recreational use), there remains a cloud of stigma surrounding cannabis use. Patients would come into their doctors’ offices with fears of being labeled “stoners” or “drug addicts,” despite doctors actually favoring the use of cannabis.

A 2013 poll from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that doctors were all for the use of medicinal cannabis even if they weren’t 100% certain about how to go about it. That itself is promising, as there are multiple listed benefits of cannabis oil, THC oil, edibles, and other cannabis products, all of which have little to no side effects.

Should you decide to talk to your doctor about cannabis, all you need to do is be open on how to proceed with your treatment. It’s perfectly understandable if you feel a little wary or uncomfortable about the subject—after all, it’s been stigmatized for so long—but just remind yourself that your health is what is most important. If you do come across a doctor or a health care provider who chastises and discourages you, then you should always look for second opinion.

So what should you keep in mind before marching into your doctor’s office? We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips for you:

Do Your Research

While cannabis is known to treat and ease the symptoms of a variety of ailments, it is not a magical cure-all. You will also have to take into consideration that different strains have different effects. You may expect to go to our doctor and be told exactly what’s what but the unfortunate reality is that the science of the endocannabinoid system is not extensively taught in medical schools. It’s highly likely that your doctor won’t know all the details and solutions offered by cannabis products, so you’ll have to do some of the legwork yourself. It doesn’t have to be very complex—you could simply start with the basics, and go from there. 

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Think about What’s Best Suited for You

Though the common assumption with cannabis is that you simply shake a bunch of leaves onto some paper then roll it into a joint to smoke, there are a variety of other products and methods that could work better for you. Keep in mind that some strains are better taken a certain way, or that some products have varying timeframes when they take effect. Each variety has its own strengths and side effects as well. This is where your research kicks in: once you get a good idea of what kind of medicinal cannabis product should work best for you, present the idea to your doctor for discussion. 

Be Honest and Transparent

As they say, it’s all about communication. Be sure to communicate openly to your doctor about your goals, whether or not you’ve had experience using medicinal cannabis. Don’t get worked up with the possibility of getting yourself or your doctor in trouble just because you had a discussion on this topic: anything and everything you talk about is confidential, and your doctor will be legally protected.

Assuming that you’ve done your homework, you should explain what you want to use—or are already using—and what your desired goals and outcomes would be. Any good doctor will only want to learn more. Doctors have actually become more open and enthusiastic with medicinal cannabis because they have had friends, relatives, or patients asking and informing them about it. This leads them to study it more, do their own research, look into prestigious scientific journals, and consult with their peers. This never ending cycle of education on the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids will not only help your cause, but that of future patients.

Ask Questions

Now that you’ve done your research and educated yourself about the benefits of medicinal cannabis, you have to make sure that you’re not the one doing all the talking. Ask your doctor about what their opinions are, if they have had any prior experience with it, the results with other patients and so on and so forth. Here is a handy list of questions you could ask your doctor: 

  • Will medicinal cannabis products interfere with my other medications?
  • What side effects should I expect?
  • How do you recommend I should consume medicinal cannabis? (via oils, edibles, vapor, tincture, etc.)
  • Are there any known health risks associated with medicinal cannabis consumption?
  • How do I keep myself safe while using medicinal cannabis?
  • Will the use of medicinal cannabis interfere with my daily activities?
  • Where can I find more comprehensive information about medicinal cannabis?
  • Will medicinal cannabis be a good option for my lifestyle?
  • Will I be able to use medicinal cannabis around my children/pets?
  • What healthcare costs should I expect once I start consuming medicinal cannabis? Should I avoid medicinal cannabis consumption when I’m pregnant and/or breastfeeding?

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Know When to Walk Away

Though it’s generally understood that when you speak to a doctor they should be up-to-date with modern medicine and treatments, not all of them would be so forthcoming about medicinal cannabis use. If you’ve presented your case and your research and they’re not so sure about pushing forward, be sure to respect their professional opinion.

If you come out of the doctor’s office unhappy about your conversation with your doctor, keep in mind that it isn’t the end of the world. You can always move on and pursue a second opinion from another medical professional. Again, always remember, it ultimately boils down to what is the best for you, your health, and your well-being. Finding a second opinion may even open doors to more welcoming doctors who, besides being more agreeable, is a better fit for you.

In these days where modern medicine is developing and ripping away labels, doctors are getting more and more open to alternative medications than ever before. When finally deciding to sit down and talk to your doctor about medicinal cannabis use, be sure to think back to this list to make that conversation as comfortable to you as possible.