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How To Talk To Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana

There's evidence to suggest medical cannabis could help ease symptoms of a wide range of medical conditions from arthritis to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to glaucoma and epilepsy.

But having The Talk with your doctor can be nerve-wracking. What if they immediately get on the phone to your employer? What if they write you off as a drug-seeker? Here are some basic tips to help you prepare for the conversation.

1. Relax

The stigma surrounding medical marijuana is fading: you're probably not the first to inquire with your doctor. There is nothing illegal about discussing your symptoms and ways to manage them. Even if your doctor remains iffy on the notion of using cannabis for therapeutic purposes, you're still protected by confidentiality laws. You might not have to wait long, either: Diane Cochran of the Billings Gazette writes, "it took me eight minutes and five questions to get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana."

2. Come prepared

Things to bring with you include: 1) a list of all relevant medications, past and present 2) the reasons you believe medical marijuana would be more effective and 3) any relevant forms, which vary by state. It'll help your case if you have one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, which varies from place to place.

3. Know U.S. and Canadian law

Medical marijuana is not available everywhere, and is still a Class 1 Drug under federal law. Consulting a list of the 23 legal medical marijuana states, or an overview of Canadian medical marijuana laws, can help you figure out whether it's an option. You can also refer your doctor to this site by Americans for Safe Access aimed at medical professionals.

4. Explore other options

Unless your condition is life-threatening, most doctors are reticent to prescribe medical marijuana before you've explored other avenues. But some patients say traditional medications don't work for ADHD. In fact, according to 33-year-old Tommy, they made it worse.

"My anxiety got much better after I started trying cannabis," he said a personal testimonial on Naturally Healing MD, "and for the first time in my life I could manage a whole long, dark, cold winter in Norway without feeling depressed, and that was a strong experience for me who rarely went outside my flat the whole winter."

It would help your case to let the doctor know you've found other treatments ineffective - especially if your symptoms include pain, nausea, loss of appetite due to cancer - which marijuana is known to treat. Cultivate a broader interest in alternative medicine, not just cannabis.

5. Consider less-traditional ways to consume

You might encounter objections on the grounds that smoking is bad for you. Fortunately, there are many, many other ways to ingest cannabis: capsules, tinctures, suppositories and vaping all allow you to reap the benefits minus the cancer-causing smoke.

"When I was really sick, it hurt to smoke, so I started using a vaporizer," writes Spencer Burnett on Quantum 9 Inc. "Then I began experimenting with making edibles and tinctures. Cannabis is incredibly versatile. It has nuances much like wine. I often speak of cannabis like most wine connoisseurs speak of wine."

Ensure your doctor is aware of the new ways to consume that don't involve inhaling burning plant matter into your lungs.

6. Get a second opinion

Your doctor is the professional: maybe their reasons for declining your request are valid. Take their opinion seriously. But it's your health: you're entitled to seek advice from another medical professional if you think your request has been wrongfully dismissed.

H/t Safe Access Now, WikiHow, ProCon, NORML, Naturally Healing


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