Do you disclose your cannabis intake with your Dr.?

Studies show that breast cancer patients often hide their cannabis consumption from their doctors. I’m pretty confident it’s not just breast cancer patients either! It’s a hot button topic to bring up with your family Dr. You may be concerned that starting a cannabis conversation may impact your relationship with your Dr. That’s a fair concern. 

While it is important for your Dr. to be aware of your cannabis consumption so they can be aware of any side effects or interaction with other medications or treatments that you are doing – they do not have to be your only option to receive support and a prescription. 

Often the first time we talk to our Dr. about cannabis, it’s in regards to obtaining a prescription. There are a few ways to approach this and still keep your head held high. 

  1. Have a conversation about cannabis with a family member, friend or cannabis coach before heading to the Dr. Role play scenarios where the Dr. is supportive and where the Dr. is not. Be assured you are not asking for anything illegal.
  2. Know before you go! Know why you want to try cannabis and what you hope it will do for you. Do you want pain management with cannabis, anxiety relief with cannabis, stress relief with cannabis?
  3. You likely already know more about cannabis than your Dr. – especially if you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, be confident when you ask for a prescription. Remember, this is NOT ILLEGAL!
  4. Assure your Dr. that you have good support for safe cannabis dosing with your cannabis coach (me!)
  5. You don’t have to ask all your cannabis questions to your Dr. unless you know they are well educated about medical cannabis. Many Dr.’s have not dived deeply yet into cannabis education and may not have the information you are looking for. That’s what I’m here for!
  6. Be aware that The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC advise their members “that they should not prescribe any substance for their patients without knowing the risks, benefits, potential complications and drug interactions associated with the use of that agent”. So if your Dr. has not researched cannabis, they may flat out refuse your prescription. Don’t take this personally, it is not a reflection on you!  
  7. Your family Dr. is not your only option!  Try an online clinic like Apollo Cannabis Clinic.

I received my first medical cannabis prescription in 2014.  Back then, I shared with my Dr. that my insomnia from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was way better managed with cannabis. I walked away with this script 

“This is to certify that the above patient uses cannabis to treat her chronic insomnia from chronic fatigue syndrome.”

There was no dosing, recommended method of intake, suggested strains or guidance of any kind. 

An updated prescription that you would receive now from your Dr. or Nurse Practitioner tells you how many grams/day you are authorized to purchase and how long your prescription lasts. That’s it!  And that is why I’m a cannabis coach! I help you fill in all those details and guide you on a successful cannabis experience.

The process of accessing cannabis has changed over the years. Medical cannabis was first legalized in Canada in 2001. Your family Dr. could write a prescription and then you were on your own to source your cannabis. Compassion Clubs across Canada were supportive in working with medical patients who had their medical cannabis prescriptions. Eventually, legal medical dispensaries opened up and you could shop there with your prescription. Some people choose to buy it off the street from the black market.

When full legalization arrived in Oct 2018, the medical dispensaries were shut down and no longer able to serve medical patients. They converted to retail stores to sell recreational cannabis only and are gagged from speaking about medical cannabis by Health Canada. Compassion Club’s were shut down, patients were struggling to access their medicine. All medical cannabis went online and access was strictly through an LP (Licensed Producer).

Medical cannabis is easily accessible if you:

  • are internet literate,
  • can navigate an LP’s website and
  • if you are comfortable buying online.

So, it’s possible medical cannabis isn’t easily accessible by everyone. We have lots of work still to do with legalization, access, stigma and research. But we are going forward…slowly.

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