medical marijuana

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis


It is not unusual for medical cannabis patients to struggle to talk to their family members and friends about it. But even before getting to that place, some patients have trouble talking to their doctors about it. They think medical cannabis might help relieve some of their symptoms, but they are not necessarily sure their doctors will agree.

Not being able to talk to your doctor isn’t as big a deal in the eighteen states where recreational marijuana is allowed. You can simply buy on the recreational market and self-medicate. But in states where cannabis is restricted to medical use only, a reluctance to talk to your doctor could ultimately mean having to continue living with symptoms that could otherwise be alleviated.

Doctors Are Sometimes Reluctant

Utah is one of the states with a medical-only cannabis program. Originally, state law required doctors to undergo a certain amount of training before being certified as a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) licensed to recommend medical cannabis.

The state has since changed its law considerably. Doctors can still become QMPs in order to recommend cannabis to hundreds of patients. But any doctor with prescribing authority in Utah can act as a Limited Medical Provider (LMP) for up to fifteen patients.

Still, according to Brigham City’s Beehive Farmacy, doctors are sometimes reluctant. Many in Utah, and elsewhere, still are not convinced that medical cannabis is safe and effective. Others aren’t sure about their own legal status should they recommend it.

Tips for Talking with Your Doctor

If you believe you might benefit from medical cannabis, the only way to know whether your doctor is on board is to have the discussion. Not having it thus far suggests that your doctor is unlikely to bring it up. You are going to have to get things started. That being the case, here are some tips for talking with your doctor:

  • Be an Educator

Do plenty of research before you mention the topic. Once the discussion starts, look to educate your doctor using research data and verifiable medical news.

  • Explain Your Reasoning

Be sure to explain why you believe you can benefit from medical cannabis. Relate the drug to your health condition and its applicable symptoms.

  • Be Open and Honest

Be open and honest throughout your discussions. Be especially open about your symptoms and why you believe medical cannabis could be better than your current therapy.

  • Be Your Own Advocate

It is important throughout your discussions to not give the impression that you are asking permission. Rather, be your own health advocate. Be an active participant in deciding what is best for you.

Also be sure to keep your discussions polite and on topic. Hopefully, you and your doctor will agree. But if you do not, there is no point in turning the discussion into a testy conflict. Maintaining a polite and cordial conversational tone will allow you to agree to disagree if necessary.

You May Have to Walk Away

You may do everything in your power to help your doctor see that medical cannabis might be right for you and still be faced with significant opposition. In such a case, you may have to walk away. You may have to find a new doctor.

In closing, there is a caveat in all of this: your doctor may generally agree in the medical efficacy of cannabis but still believes it’s not the right drug for you. And if that’s the case, you should be as equally open to his opinion as you expect him to be to yours. Medical cannabis may truly not be your best option.

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