Talking to Your Doctor About Cannabis | PotSaver
Talking to Your Doctor About Cannabis
Have you ever gone to the emergency room or a walk-in clinic for a medical condition you’re experiencing? Then, after waiting for a while to be seen, they finally put you in a room… Here it comes… the 20 questions. Do you exercise? How many hours estimated do you sleep a night? Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you partake in recreational drugs?
What do you say when your doctor’s office categorizes cannabis as only a recreational drug? My experience – I went to my doctor when I had a very bad cold and some flu-like symptoms for over 2 weeks. While going through the 20 questions, I arrived to the recreational drug question after replying no to smoking cigarettes.
I pled guilty to smoking MMJ to my nurse. She then asked me how often I smoke a day and week. After these questions, she proceeded to tell me that I need to remember the human brain doesn’t stop developing until 25 years of age. Even after that time frame, it can still negatively affect the brain. She continued on about how I should be more careful about people I surround myself with (because my boyfriend I live with also smokes cannabis). I felt attacked, harassed about my own life choices, and that I couldn’t really trust in telling my doctor about myself without judgement. All I wanted was medicine to make myself better and I felt like I was being personally attacked by someone that I see only a few times a year.
Sadly, some medical professional’s refuse to acknowledge the health benefits of cannabis medicine. There is still a stigma surrounding cannabis. It’s shrinking, but it’s still there.
In 2009, a study was done in California by Travis D Satterlund. He was writing the book “The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.” He interviewed 18 medical marijuana users, all ranging from ages 19 to 66, in California. Thirteen participants were male and five were female. These patients disclosed how frequently they took their medicine, their views on obtaining it through their doctor, how it helps them, and so on.
After recording all the data, graphs and spreadsheets were created in attempt to locate common or recurring themes. They found a common result – “Stigma emerged as a primary and recurring issue, as it related to both the process of becoming a medical marijuana user and remaining one. This stigma meant that patients had to decide if and when to reveal their medical marijuana use, whether others already knew of their medical marijuana use and, finally, whether others would be accepting of their medical marijuana use.” These are the direct results.
Patients even purposely wouldn’t share their experience or even talk about using medical marijuana most times due to the fear of being seen as a “stoner” instead of a patient. A cancer treatment patient spoke out, stating that she waited until around her second and third chemotherapy treatment after a nurse offered her some advice – using medical marijuana. The nurse then brought it up to her doctor. She felt more comfortable talking to her doctor about it after that and it was prescribed. But, it took multiple treatments and a conversation with someone else before they even felt comfortable bringing it up to their doctor.
When Should You Talk to Your Doctor About Cannabis-Use?
If you aren’t attempting to obtain a doctor’s medical cannabis recommendation, when should you tell your doctor that you use cannabis?
- At a regular physical when your nurse goes through your questionnaire, you do not have to tell them – that is your choice. Though, it is better to tell them so they can put it in your records. It can be a complication with some prescription drugs; so before taking a new medication, I recommend disclosing your cannabis-use to your doctor and doing your own research.
- When you go to the emergency room for any medical emergency, you do not have to tell the nurse. If you are there for any lung, airway or breathing complications, it is best to let them know any smoking participation so they can have that knowledge and further help you in your medical emergency.
- Before surgery of any kind, it is imperative that you tell your surgeon if you do smoke cannabis. The anesthesia can wear off much faster if you smoke cannabis, so it’s important that you tell your surgeon so they can adjust the amount of anesthesia before the surgery. We wouldn’t want any complications, such as being restless or slightly waking, now would we?
Remember that you never have to tell anyone about your personal life choices. In some cases, it may help medical professionals diagnose another complication if they have all the knowledge that your body encounters. Be aware though – you might not get the reaction you’re expecting. I know I wasn’t expecting to be told how “bad” my personal choices are. Some people just can’t accept change or change their thought process.
Talking to Your Doctor About Cannabis
- If you are going to talk to your doctor, own it. Tell them how frequently, and how you feel it helps. If there is anything you’re wondering about cannabis, you are legally allowed to freely ask any questions about your health or concerns.
- If you’re interested in asking your doctor for a recommendation, research it first and have your facts right. Have a medical reasoning that backs you up so that in case your doctor tries to counter, you have seen the way it can support and help your condition.
- If you’re afraid of feeling unsafe or stigmatized for asking about cannabis, you are allowed to bring a trusted confidant with you just to be in the room or by your side. This allows you to have support the entire time.
- Your doctor may also give you multiple options – stating that using a cream, tincture or oil is better than smoking consumption or eating consumption. It’s whatever works for you. Just remember to advocate for yourself and what you think is best for you medically.
Never let anyone else tell you how to live your life, or that your choices are bad. You make the best decisions for yourself, and even doctors might not know what is best for you. Just remember to state your case or claim. You don’t have to explain your choices to any medical professional, or anyone at all if you don’t feel safe.
Important Side Note from the Editor
We are not medical professionals. We suggest consulting a medical professional prior to making any medical decisions. Keep in mind that medical professionals are unable to help you to the best of their ability if you do not fully disclose any and all information, including consumption of cannabis in any form. The stigma to medical cannabis cannot be lifted if we choose to continue to cover it up as if it is something to be hidden.