Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 07/22/2018 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Even if you really trust your doctor, and most Americans do, it can be hard to talk to them about a difficult medical issue sometimes. Asking them about a controversial issue like the use of medical marijuana could be very difficult. While a staggering 94% of Americans favor the federal legalization of medical marijuana, the current administration has taken a very negative view of the use of marijuana in any situation.
Even more interesting, however, is the April 2018 National Poll on Healthy Aging by the University of Michigan. It found that 80% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 support the use of medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor. Only 13% of those surveys were definitely opposed.
Currently, many states allow the use of medical marijuana. So there’s a very good chance that you live in a state that allows the use of marijuana for a variety of medical conditions (which we will outline below).
Yet, it is still entirely understandable that raising the subject of medical marijuana makes you feel uneasy. If your doctor reacts in a negative way and is judgmental or dismissive of your questions, this could prevent you from getting the information that you need. If this does happen, it’s important to get a second opinion from a physician who knows more about the use of medical marijuana and its benefits.
If you live in a state that allows medical marijuana, our directory will provide you with the name of physicians in your area who are more open-minded.
Here are some of the questions you might want to know about or ask your doctor.
Is It Legal to Ask Your Doctor About a Medical Marijuana Prescription?
Yes, it is. Here’s what you should know:
- Even if your doctor disapproves, you will not be reported to the police and you cannot be criminally charged for simply asking about whether or not cannabis can help you.
- In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of protecting a patient’s right to seek information and the right for a physician to share information about medical marijuana. In another court case involving the question of asking about medical marijuana, one of the judges wrote, “It is well-established that the right to hear — the right to receive information — is no less protected by the First Amendment than the right to speak.”
- Much has changed since the 2002 ruling and many doctors now may not only talk to their patients about medical marijuana, but also actively recommend it for their use.
What Medical Symptoms or Conditions Does Cannabis Treat?
Once you’ve gotten over any feelings of being uncomfortable about talking to your doctor about using medical marijuana, it’s time to learn a little bit more about how it actually works and what conditions it can treat. Medical marijuana can be used to treat specific symptoms determined by each state that allows its use. Another quick check of the internet will provide you with that answer for your state.
The following is a list of the medical conditions that are covered. Again, check your state’s specific recommendations to see if your symptoms are included:
- ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hepatitis C
Other conditions that may be covered include:
Again, check to see the medical conditions that qualify in your state. But if you been diagnosed with any of the above ailments and you have only limited success with standard treatments, medical marijuana — either used in combination with your current medicines or alone — may be able to help you manage pain more effectively, be more mobile and improve your appetite.
How Should I Consume Marijuana?
Once a patient has been recommended medical marijuana for a medical condition, there are several convenient ways they can ingest the cannabis:
- It can be smoked, of course.
- Some people choose to use a vaporizer, an oral spray or even make edibles.
Talk to your doctor about which one of these methods they recommend for your symptoms or condition. They may prefer that you use a vaporizer or even an edible over actually smoking marijuana.
What About the Health Risks Associated With Medical Marijuana?
Smoking anything is not necessarily a healthy thing to do. But since medical marijuana does not contain any of the toxins or poisons found in cigarettes, its potential to harm your lungs is less of a factor. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask your doctor about any health risks. For instance, if you have asthma, smoking would definitely not be an option.
Your doctor may already have access to more accurate information about the health risks of using medical marijuana or, together, you can use the internet to find more information.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Medical Marijuana?
While medical marijuana may help improve a medical condition, if it prevents you from functioning normally in your life, you have to question your use of it:
- That means talking to your doctor about the proper dosage, the frequency of use and the method of ingestion.
- Marijuana has different effects on different people – it can sometimes induce panic or anxiety attacks.
- Medical marijuana use can be affected by diet, the environment in which it is consumed and the strain of marijuana ingested.
- Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders when you use medical marijuana.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Around My Children? Is Secondhand Smoke a Problem?
Not only should you talk to your doctor about any possible effects of medical marijuana use around your children, but you should also talk to your children about why you are using medical marijuana in the first place. Children are naturally curious and no doubt they will have heard many stories about marijuana use, both for and against.
If I Use Medical Marijuana, Will It Interfere With Any Other Medication I May Be Taking?
The interaction of one drug with another is always a concern for any patient and their doctor:
- While there are online databases that allow you to check for drug interactions, many of them may not include cannabis or its derivatives.
- Your doctor will have a better idea about how your medications will interact with marijuana.
- Please make sure you check before you start to avoid any potentially unhealthy issues.
What’s the Best Place for Me to Use Medical Marijuana So That I Feel Safe?
This is a subject that is important to discuss with your doctor. Don’t just base how you use your medical marijuana on an online article or a discussion with a friend. Let your doctor help you plan the first few times you use medical marijuana:
- If you’ve never used marijuana before, remember that when you first use medical marijuana, it will probably have a greater than normal impact on you.
- It’s advisable to do it later in the evening or when you have the next day off.
- Don’t do it by yourself. Have a loved one or a good friend around who can help you if needed.
Are There Any Activities I Should Avoid While Using Medical Marijuana?
Yes. Here are some of them:
- You won’t want to go for a drive or for a long walk or cook a big meal the first few times you take the treatment.
- Again, your doctor will help you decide what you can and can’t do while you are taking medical marijuana.
Can I Overdose If I Take Too Much Medical Marijuana?
It is extremely unlikely that you would ever ingest or smoke enough marijuana in a short enough period to actually overdose. You would need to consume about 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes.
What About the Costs of Using Medical Marijuana?
The medical costs of marijuana frequently depend upon the form of cannabis being used for your treatment:
- The type of marijuana being used and even the location where you buy it can also affect the price.
- You can pay between $200 and $400 for an ounce of marijuana, but most people probably won’t need that much.
- If your doctor is familiar with the use of medical marijuana, they can probably give you a much better idea of how much you will have to pay.
- Currently, there are no healthcare plans in the United States that pay for medical marijuana use and probably won’t be until the federal government no longer treats it as a Schedule 1 drug.
Where Do I Find Out More Information About Medical Marijuana?
In truth, this may be the one place where you are as much educator as the one being educated. This is a new enough field of study that it can feel difficult at times to find reliable, trustworthy information:
- If your doctor is open to the use of medical marijuana but may not have prescribed it before or may be unaware of its health benefits, you can play an important role in helping them find many of the resources that they will need.
- If your doctor is an experienced proponent of medical marijuana and knows a great deal about its use, it’s benefits and even its drawbacks, being an informed consumer is always a good idea.
- There are many informative sites on the internet, but your doctor may also have material in other forms that will help you understand the best ways to use medical marijuana to treat your condition.
- It’s important for you as a patient to be patient. While historical records show that marijuana has been used for medical reasons for over 3,000 years, American doctors have only been prescribing marijuana for a relatively short period of time.
- Your possible use of medical marijuana may be part of a discussion that you and your doctor have over a period of time. Make sure that all your questions are answered to your satisfaction and remember to be honest with your doctor about why you’re interested in using medical marijuana.
- Remember that there’s no such thing as a bad question. If you really want to know about medical marijuana, don’t be shy — speak up! Like all your important health questions, you deserve professional, sound and unbiased medical advice. If your doctor wants to help you but can’t answer all your questions, ask them to refer you to a medical specialist who focuses on using medical marijuana to treat patients.
- Also, don’t use marijuana without consulting with your physician. If you catch them off-guard and they discovered during a normal health test that you’ve been taking marijuana, they may not wish to see you anymore as a patient. While, technically speaking, they are not allowed to dismiss you for this reason, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. So be honest with your physician and let them help you discover the benefits of medical marijuana.
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If you’re looking for a trusted nationwide network of physicians in states where medical marijuana is legal and who are currently prescribing marijuana for their patients when it is appropriate, Marijuana Doctors has the resources you need.
Our blog is also a great resource to help both doctors and patients understand the benefits of medical marijuana. You’ll also find lots of advice on how to navigate your way through what for many is still unchartered territory. You’ll find help on how to find a medical marijuana doctor, how you go about getting a state-registered medical marijuana card and where you can find a marijuana dispensary.
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