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Education

4 Ways to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

By Danial Schecter, MD
July 23, 2017

Many people in Canada live with chronic diseases and symptoms that have been resistant to traditional medications and non-pharmaceutical approaches. An increasing number of people living with unresolved symptoms are looking for alternative solutions to improve their quality of life and cannabis is increasingly being considered. Because the only way to access medical cannabis legally in Canada is through the MMPR system with a “medical document” (aka “prescription”) signed by their doctor, this necessitates a conversation that can sometimes be difficult.

Here are some tips that may help you and your physician if you want to consider medical cannabis and cannabinoids as a therapeutic option.

1. Speak up: Medical cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids are a relatively new treatment option on the Canadian landscape. Most physicians will not think of this class of medication as they are not familiar with it (only ~ 10% of doctors have prescribed medical cannabis in Canada). Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject for fear of thinking “my doctor would never consider this” – you might be surprised! Physicians are often willing to try new treatment options, especially if your medical condition has been particularly difficult to treat.

2. Be Honest: If you have used cannabis in the past and had a positive response, be prepared to talk about this with your doctor. Tell your doctor how this medication works for you, how it is different from other medications that you have used in the past, and why you would like to continue to use it in the future. One of the most powerful tools that you can do is to explain how cannabis improves your quality of life and allows you to be more functional. If accessing a legal, reliable and consistent source of medicine is important to you then bring this up as well.

3.Be prepared: Because physicians try to base their decisions on scientific evidence, it is useful to come with studies to support the use of cannabis in your particular condition. If you bring in clinical studies or research that supports the use of cannabis in your condition, this will demonstrate your commitment to exploring alternative solutions.

Some excellent online resources include:

4. Listen: If your doctor is hesitant to support your use of herbal cannabis listen to their reasons

– maybe there are other options that are more appropriate for your particular condition.

Remember that your doctor is also your partner in health and s/he is as dedicated as you are to allow you to lead the life you want to lead. If cannabis or cannabinoids may help you achieve your goals, then chances are they will be open to having this conversation.
Good Luck!

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