Talking to Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana: An RN’s Perspective

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talking to your doctor about medical marijuanaGuest Post by Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC

One of the most perverse consequences of the legal grey area surrounding medical cannabis is the fear that many patients have in revealing their status as MMJ patients to their doctors. This is not good as a patient should feel safe and confident in speaking with their doctor about anything.

If you cannot speak with your doctor frankly and openly, you are not going to get good medical care. Your doctor needs to know everything you do that affects your health if he or she is going to be able to make informed decisions on your healthcare. How to tell your doctor then depends on your level of confidence in your doctor.

Talking to Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana: Where to Begin

You might start by just asking him or her about their opinion on the use of cannabis. If the opinion is positive then there should be no problem in revealing your use. If it isn’t, then you need to do a little educating. Providing them with authoritative information would be a good place to start as even doctors can succumb to decades of “reefer madness” brainwashing and cannot rationally look at cannabis with the reasoned scientific objectivity that was the foundation of their training.

One of the best would be to provide information from medical organizations that they are most likely a member of such as the American Medical Association, which is the largest medical doctor organization in the country. This staid and conservative medical group has called “for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.”

Although this is not a ringing endorsement, it does show that the largest medical doctors’ organization in the country has recognized that there is enough evidence of its medical efficacy to change its long standing policy that cannabis should remain a Schedule 1 drug with no accepted medical usage.

Another prestigious medical organization is the American College of Physicians, our nation’s second largest medical doctor organization. They endorsed a “review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance and reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions.”

This will show your doctor that your contention that you have benefited from MMJ use is not so farfetched.

Then you need to provide your doctor with a little research on the use of cannabis for your conditions. Whether you are using cannabis for pain, depression, insomnia, movement disorders or whatever, by going to google.com and typing in your condition followed by the words “medical marijuana” you should find many articles supporting the use of the plant that you can download and give to your doctor.

The Importance of Talking to Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana

It is important that your doctor understand your use of cannabis. If cannabis has improved your condition, it is imperative that your doctor know this. Otherwise he will understandably assume that the treatment and medications he prescribed for you are the reasons for the improvement in your health.

Seeing the improvement in your health, but not knowing about your cannabis use, he will continue to prescribe that treatment for other patients. This is good for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the medications prescribed by your doctor, but not good for patients who might find greater relief with fewer side effects by using a plant instead of or in combination with the prescription pharmaceuticals prescribed by their doctor.

As jaded as a doctor might be to claims of cannabis’ efficacy, knowing that it has improved your health, they will be less likely to freak out when other patients report their use.

If after all that, your doctor still will not accede to your medical marijuanaJ use, perhaps you need to get another doctor. That could be difficult especially if you are a member of an HMO or a government health agency like the VA, but if you are to receive informed and effective medical care, your doctor needs to know.

Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC

Author Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC

Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC is host of the Internet radio show Marijuana Compassion & Common Sense and founder of the Marijuana Anti Prohibition Project and theBrownie Mary Democratic Club. Contact him at lanny@marijuananews.org.

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