Medical Marijuana

“The most potent ‘pro’ in endorsing medical marijuana is that it allows access to another ‘arrow in the quiver’ of physicians in helping patients, particularly those persons fighting pain, certain neurological conditions, and possibly other medical conditions as well, including some psychiatric disorders,”

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#1. Not all medical cannabis is the same.
Cannabis comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, and there are hundreds of different strains out there. “Cannabinoids are the molecules in the cannabis plant matter that have a medical value and perform certain actions in the body,”…

Two of the best-known types of cannabinoids contained in most strains are THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (the name for cannabidiol). THC causes the psychoactive effect that people typically associate with cannabis use; CBD offers many therapeutic applications without the psychoactive properties.

Most people use a strain that contains a mixture of both compounds. Experts say low doses of THC can be effective for treating anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Higher doses are typically required for pain relief.

#2.  Medical cannabis can be used to treat a variety of conditions.


“Some of the more frequent reasons for cannabinoid medicine specialists [or other physicians] to recommend cannabis is to treat pain and to treat anxiety,”

“Other common conditions that cannabis can address include [but aren’t limited to] migraines, epilepsy, ADD/ADHD, PTSD, depression, Crohn’s disease, nausea, appetite stimulant, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and autism.” (Keep in mind that the conditions cannabis is approved to treat will depend on the state in which you live.)

Some people are not good candidates for this form of treatment. As with any medication, pregnant women should consult a doctor before use and those with schizophrenia should use cannabis only under the supervision of a psychiatrist.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a warning for users of Marinol (prescription synthetic THC) and other psychoactive drugs, which is not to drive, operate heavy equipment or engage in dangerous activity until the substance’s affects are evaluated in them. Something to keep in mind when using medical cannabis as well.

#3.  Medical cannabis comes in several forms.
[Discuss the the dispensary pharmacist] .. the best ratio of THC to CBD to look for in a marijuana strain, as well as to offer a suggested dosage and route of administration. Medical cannabis can be taken in a variety of forms, including being smoked, vaporized, sublingually (under the tongue), ingested, and used topically.

When you visit a dispensary … the staff … can also help guide you to identify the best option for the type of results you are seeking. ..

#4.  Side effects are usually minor but do exist.
“While cannabis does have a few side effects, they are generally dose related and occur more frequently in novice users, and in most cases nonmedical recreational consumers,”

“These side effects include paranoia, panic attacks, and dysphoria [a feeling of deep uneasiness or dissatisfaction]. Therefore, the best advice with medical cannabis is to “start low and go slow,” .

#5.  You don’t need a prescription for medical cannabis but you do need a physician’s recommendation.
If you are an appropriate candidate for medical cannabis treatment, we can provide a medical cannabis recommendation that can be used in your state. Since medical cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, doctors don’t formally prescribe it; they recommend usage. A physician’s recommendation is needed to purchase the substance at a medical marijuana dispensary.

You may also want to use the recommendation to apply for a formal medical marijuana card, which enables you to be a registered medical cannabis user

The benefit of having a medical cannabis card is to offer protection in the event you need to prove to law enforcement that you are using it for a valid medical reason. Law enforcement may ignore the doctor’s letter (the courts will recognize it, however) but the card is an official state document and can help you avoid unnecessary hassle.

#6.  Cannabis use laws vary by state.
To learn the medical cannabis laws in your state, several online resources are available. Sites such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Marijuana Policy Project, and the United Patient’s Group provide information about regulations in each state. You can also call your state legislators for more information about local regulations.

It’s also important to understand that medical marijuana is prohibited under federal law but in states with controlled medical cannabis laws, patients with physician’s recommendations don’t generally need to be concerned about this. In 2014, Congress budgeted no money to enforce the federal anti-marijuana law (the Controlled Substances Act of 1970) in states where cannabis is legal. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) points out that the laws are meant to protect against drug rings and aren’t meant to target individual people using cannabis for approved therapeutic reasons.

“No patient should be worried. The states that have medical marijuana usually have amendments that protect patients and physicians from federal laws,” stresses Philip S. Kim, MD, CEO and founder of the Center for Interventional Pain Spine, LLC, in Newark, Delaware.

Dr. Kim also points out that for people in states that don’t have medical cannabis laws, they can ask their doctor about dronabinol, a synthetic THC and the generic form of Marinol, which is FDA approved and available nationwide.The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website reports that medications containing THC that are approved by the FDA can help with nausea control, improved pain, reduced inflammation and improvements in muscle control issues.

#7.  We talk about cannabis all day long. Talk to us.
If you’re unsure how to bring up the subject of using medical cannabis with your doctor, talk to us.

Call us, you will be pleasantly surprised.

#8.  Not all doctors are up on the latest research on medical cannabis.
You shouldn’t assume that your regular doctor is well versed in the current medical cannabis literature.

“Most physicians have not even been taught about the endocannabinoid system [the neurotransmitter system that cannabis affects for results], let alone the medicinal value of cannabis [the plant matter] and cannabinoids [the molecules].

#9.  If your physician doesn’t recommend cannabis for you, you can still find a doctor who specializes in this treatment.
If your condition qualifies you to use medical cannabis in your state and you don’t have any contraindications that make usage risky, but your primary care physician isn’t comfortable making a cannabis recommendation, ask him or her for a referral to us.

Thanks to Lisa Ellis who authored the full article. This an edited version. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/treatments/marijuana-cannabis/how-talk-your-physician-about-medical-cannabis-10-points-guide