The cannabis wave has been sweeping across the globe, offering patients an alternative approach to treatment. In the US alone, over 30 million people reported using cannabis every month.
Popularly known as marijuana, the drug has a legal provision of sorts in most states. With the ongoing excitement surrounding its health benefits, patients will inevitably want to discuss the subject with their healthcare providers.
One thing though, marijuana is not conventional medicine, and so your local GP may not be inclined to talk about it.
Still, you may be serious about trying cannabis as a medical option. In that case, you should probably sit down with your doctor and discuss your expectations from a medical point of view.
Here are a few tips to help prepare for that conversation:
1. The Basics on Cannabis
Humans have cultivated cannabis throughout history and used the plant’s products in different areas of life.
However, the average person doesn’t know much about the plant or the drug extracted from it. That’s because, up to until recently, anything related to the plant was viewed widely as a social evil.
Before engaging in a conversation with your doctor about cannabis, take some time to educate yourself on the topic.
Here are some of the things you may want to learn beforehand:
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is an umbrella term for the various strains of the cannabis plant. When people talk about cannabis, they are most likely referring to the strains that contain a molecule called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Now, if a cannabis plant contains THC, then it’s legally classified as marijuana. On the other hand, some varieties of cannabis have extremely low to no THC at all. These are known as hemp.
What about CBD and THC?
The cannabis plant, both hemp and marijuana, are rich in substances called cannabinoids. CBD is one of the main cannabinoids with many potential health benefits. THC is also a major cannabinoid with healing properties, but it is psychoactive.
We already know that there’s little to no THC in hemp. However, CBD is available in both hemp and marijuana plants.
2. Marijuana Laws
The federal law considers cannabis a Schedule I substance, making it illegal for use in any way.
However, the wave of legalizations has left many states with varying laws. Cannabis for medical use is widely adopted, with 36 states allowing its use through doctor recommendations.
The drug is also regulated for recreational use by adults in 18 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia.
Why CBD is different
Hemp is not a Schedule I drug like marijuana, and that makes a whole lot of difference. If CBD comes from hemp and contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, it’s federally legal to purchase and use.
If you live in a state like Kentucky, where cannabis is illegal for both medical and recreational purposes, you may not want to broach the subject with your doctor. Instead, talk about CBD in particular.
3. Health Conditions and Marijuana
It’s easy to get excited about the potential health benefits associated with cannabis. But you shouldn’t completely ignore the real risks that may come from using the drug.
Studies associate marijuana with mental health problems like paranoia, depression, and psychosis.
Using cannabis may be a bad idea if you have certain health conditions. For those with lung problems, smoking marijuana poses a real danger. The same goes for blood conditions like anemia, where oxygen is an issue.
4. Restrictions after Use
You probably want to know what restrictions you’d be facing once you become an active cannabis user. This is a good conversation to have with your doctor to see if the drug is really the best option in your case.
At the moment, being in possession of marijuana in an airplane is illegal. You probably shouldn’t consider crossing state lines while in possession to avoid problems with the law.
What if you’re used to participating in blood drives?
Using cannabis doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood. You can learn more here about what you may or may not do as a cannabis user hoping to donate blood.
You may ask your doctor about safety concerns when donating blood since cannabis has side effects such as increased heart rate.
5. Health Background
Your primary care doctor knows your medical history well. While discussing cannabis, talk about what you hope to gain from using the drug.
Both of you know what treatment works for you and what doesn’t. Ask them about the possibility of taking regular medications along with cannabis.
Doctors are supposed to be impartial. They should make it comfortable to talk about anything related to your wellbeing.
If you’re interested in trying cannabis and want your doctor’s support, knowledge will help you speak confidently.
In case your doctor is not understanding, you can always reach out to a licensed medical marijuana doctor.