How to Talk to Your Doctor About Using Medical Cannabis?

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Using Medical Cannabis?

Updated: 01/19/2024

Cannabis has only recently become a more widely accepted treatment option for various health conditions. Despite its growing popularity, there is still a stigma surrounding cannabis for medical purposes, making it awkward for patients to discuss it with their medical providers.

Yet, with the increasing legalization and availability of medical cannabis, you should feel comfortable and empowered to have open and honest conversations with your physician. By starting an informed dialogue, you can make informed decisions about your health and well-being.

In this blog, we will provide tips and advice on how to ask your doctor for medical cannabis.

Can Any Doctor Prescribe Medical Cannabis?

No. While 38 states, including Illinois, have legalized medical cannabis, doctors must have a valid state license and be registered with the state’s medical cannabis program to certify patients.

Should you meet the qualifying conditions, your doctor will provide you with a recommendation to register with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program, after which you will receive a medical cannabis card permitting cannabis use.

5 Steps to Ask Your Doctor for a Medical Cannabis Card

5 Steps to Ask Your Doctor for a Medical Cannabis Card

1. See the Illinois Qualifying Medical Conditions for Cannabis Use

According to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, there are many conditions ranging from Autism to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to Ulcerative Colitis that qualify for medical cannabis treatment. If you have been diagnosed with a listed condition, you have the choice to address your symptoms using medicinal cannabis.

2. Research your Health Condition and the Effects of Marijuana

Conduct thorough research on medical cannabis and its potential benefits for your chronic medical condition, as well as associated symptoms. You must be aware of any potential risks, particularly given your diagnosis. For example, cannabis has adverse effects if you take blood-thinning (Warfarin) medication or anti-depressants (Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro).

3. Schedule an Appointment to See Your Primary Doctor

Make an appointment with your primary care physician, who knows your medical background and current health status.

Inquire if they have prior experience with prescribing cannabis for your specific diagnosis. Seek another doctor if they are not knowledgeable about this or are unwilling to support your use of medical cannabis.

Wondering how to find a medical cannabis doctor?

You can search for an MMJ doctor online or ask your current doctor for a referral to a specialist in their network.

4. Arrange a Consultation with a Knowledgeable Cannabis Specialist and Prepare a List of Questions

While attending your consultation for cannabis, make note of your doctor’s approachability and willingness to assist you in understanding how to use cannabis as medicine. Be sure to have your medical records available, especially if you are seeing a new doctor.

Before providing your certification for a medical cannabis card, your doctor should perform a physical examination to evaluate your condition. Also note that to recommend cannabis legally, your doctor must be a medical doctor (“MD”) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (“DO”).

5. Obtain a Medical Marijuana Recommendation from the Cannabis Doctor

The first step in obtaining your medical cannabis card is to have your healthcare provider fill out the Health Care Professional Certification. Once this is completed, you can proceed to get your medical cannabis card to purchase the designated quantity of medical cannabis from an authorized medical marijuana dispensary in Illinois.

Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor Regarding a Medical Cannabis Card

Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor Regarding a Medical Cannabis Card

On the one hand, evaluating your medical history and current medical condition is your doctor’s job — that’s why you see a doctor in the first place!

On the other hand, the more informed you are about your health, the more empowered and confident you will feel about effectively managing your illness or injury going into the future.

Therefore, you should ask your doctor the following questions about using medical marijuana where applicable:

  • Are there any medical studies you can point toward about cannabis use and my condition?
  • What healthcare costs should I expect when purchasing medical cannabis?
  • Are there any side effects to be aware of?
  • Will second-hand smoke be an issue for children and pets?
  • Can I use medical cannabis if I’m pregnant/breastfeeding?
  • How will cannabis interact with my other medications?
  • Are there activities I should avoid while using medical cannabis?

Don’t be shy about speaking up: you deserve sound, neutral, professional medical advice regarding your health.

Tips on How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

Tips on How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

Discussing medical cannabis use with your doctor can be daunting for many patients, too.

Follow these tips to navigate this discussion with confidence and ensure you receive the possible treatment plan for your needs:

  • Be Honest: Speak frankly about your health and explain why you feel cannabis is a viable treatment option for you.
  • Be Thorough: When discussing your ongoing treatment, mention what has been effective and what hasn’t. This helps your doctor understand your treatment needs, progress, and long-term goals and how this new therapy could benefit you.
  • Be Well-Informed: Being knowledgeable about medical cannabis allows you to have a more productive and informed conversation with your doctor.
  • Be Transparent: What you say to your doctor is confidential. Inform them of your desired usage, goals, and past experimentation with the substance.
  • Be Inquisitive: Inquire about potential interactions with other medications and if there are studies on cannabis treatment for your condition. If needed, seek a second opinion.
  • Be Ready to Walk Away: Despite research and honest discussions with your doctor, they may still be hesitant to recommend medical cannabis. If this is the case, respect their decision, but seek a doctor willing to incorporate it into your treatment.

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