10 Apr Talking to your doctor about Medicinal Cannabis
Medicinal Cannabis: How to Talk to Your Doctor About It
The use of cannabis as an alternative form of treatment has been a topic of debate for quite some time. In recent times, this concept has gained prominence in Australia.
However, the medicinal use of cannabis is not a recent phenomenon. It has been utilised to treat pain and other common ailments by ancestors for thousands of years. Many people have attested to its effectiveness.
Chronic pain affects a significant proportion of Australians aged 45 years and above, with at least 1 in 5 people experiencing this condition. Despite its prevalence, chronic pain is often considered a silent epidemic in Australia, as it is not widely discussed in the medical community, leaving many people to suffer in silence.
If you are among the many people who suffer from chronic pain or other medical conditions and have tried various treatment options and medications without success, you may be considering medicinal cannabis as a potential alternative treatment.
Before pursuing medicinal cannabis as a treatment option, it is essential to consult with your cannabis doctor and a specialist to discuss this decision and begin your journey. But how to talk to your doctor about medical cannabis? Let’s find out in this article.
Accessing medical cannabis in Australia
Fortunately, the use of medicinal cannabis is now allowed in Australia as long as it follows the regulations set out by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). If you’re considering medicinal cannabis as part of your treatment, you need to consult a qualified cannabis doctor and get a prescription approved by the TGA before you can purchase medicinal cannabis from registered suppliers.
Preparing yourself for a conversation with medicinal cannabis doctors
Many patients who want to try medicinal cannabis often have a difficult time opening the conversation and how to talk to the doctor about medical cannabis. Since medicinal cannabis can still be a sensitive topic to some, you might feel awkward or uncomfortable discussing it with your doctor because you’re afraid that you might offend him or you will get a negative reaction from the conversation.
However, if you believe that medicinal cannabis will help you live a better quality of life, then it’s a conversation worth having with your doctor and finding a medical cannabis prescriber. To ease your worry and come into your appointment prepared, here are some tips that you can follow:
Understand that medicinal cannabis is legal.
One of the most common sources of frustration and fear among patients who want to try medicinal cannabis is the stereotype that cannabis is illegal. But in Australia, medicinal cannabis is legal medicine, as long as it’s from the right suppliers and a proper prescription from one of the qualified medicinal cannabis doctors.
It’s also very important to remember that medicinal cannabis has been proven effective. Although some experts would beg to disagree saying that it still needs more research, you can see a lot of observational evidence from real patients around the world who can attest to the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis in treating pain and other chronic medical conditions with the guidance of a cannabis doctor.
Cannabis has also been used for centuries with no records of death due to its use. Of course, you have to change your mindset about cannabis giving you a “high” like you would if you took it as a recreational drug.
Medicinal cannabis has been processed to contain only the good benefits of cannabinoids but without the “high” associated with it. You’ll see people who take medicinal cannabis and still function daily, so you don’t need to be worried about it.
Learn about the foundational concepts of medicinal cannabis.
If you want to have a fruitful conversation with medicinal cannabis doctors, you need to learn at least the foundational concepts that make up this practice. This is the time when you’ll need to do a lot of research to gather the information you can use during your discussion with your doctor.
It’s essential to learn about concepts like how medicinal cannabis is made, the differences between CBD and THC, the medical access pathways in Australia for medicinal cannabis, how the endocannabinoid system works, the costs of medicinal cannabis in the country, your eligibility requirements and how you can get access to a qualified cannabis doctor and an approved prescription.
Prepare yourself for the conversation.
It’s no secret for those who’ve tried medicinal cannabis that securing a prescription can be quite stressful. This is because doctors need to make sure that you’re qualified for this alternative treatment and that could be a long discussion between you and the medicinal cannabis doctor.
It’s best to prepare three things to ensure you’re going into that conversation ready. For one, you need to have a complete record of your medical history and the failures you experienced with past treatments. This will help you justify your need to try medicinal cannabis as a potential treatment since you have already exhausted what’s readily available in the market.
In Australia, you need to have a chronic medical condition and a history of failed treatments to be considered for medicinal cannabis. Collate all your medical documents and, if possible, create a journal of your journey so you won’t forget any important detail during your discussion. It would be smart if you create a table that lists all the symptoms you’ve been feeling and what treatments have been used for them, if they worked and if they didn’t.
You should also talk about the physical and mental side effects of these treatments to allow your cannabis doctor to understand where you’re coming from. Remember that treatments don’t only include taking medications. You also need to discuss all types of treatments including therapies and procedures, so your doctor can get a clearer picture of your journey.
List down your expectations for the treatment.
Although there has been a lot of strong evidence towards the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis, it still has some side effects on some patients. This is why it’s crucial to include information like the benefits of medicinal cannabis, its difference from your current medications and, of course, the potential side effects of using it as your alternative treatment option.
Having this information will allow you to get a better discussion with a medical cannabis prescriber and also ask the right questions to help you decide if medicinal cannabis is the right option for you and how you can go about doing it. You also need to keep in mind that your doctor may not be as well educated about medicinal cannabis as you might expect. This is completely normal because of the ongoing debate about cannabis as a medicinal treatment.
Prepare yourself for rejection.
Of course, you’d want to go to your doctor’s appointment and have your doctor support your decision of going into the route of medicinal cannabis as your treatment option. Unfortunately, not all doctors will do that. Some may shut down the idea upon hearing the word “cannabis” even without hearing your side, and that could be frustrating.
But even if your doctor’s first impression isn’t what you expected, be respectful enough to ask him if you could continue the conversation. You can hear the reasons your doctor may not recommend the use of medicinal cannabis and react accordingly. This is also why it matters a lot to do your research before going into your appointment since you have the proper information to answer your doctor appropriately and reach out professionally.
Learn how to start the conversation.
Sometimes, the hardest part about talking to your doctor about medicinal cannabis is how to start the conversation. In most cases, patients begin by telling their doctor about news or article that they’ve read about medicinal cannabis. For instance, you can start the conversation with, “Yesterday, I came across an article about medicinal cannabis and it got me interested. What do you think about this?”
By opening the discussion this way, you can gauge your doctor’s reaction and feelings about the topic and decide what the next step in the conversation would be. If you’re lucky enough to have a doctor who will support your interest, you could have an assessment and get a prescription right away.
But if there are objections, you can use your research to plead your case and justify your reason for wanting to try this treatment option.
Either way, make sure that you go into your appointment with an open mind because the concept of medicinal cannabis is still quite new in Australia. Hear your doctor out since he may just be as uncomfortable about the topic as you are. Allow your doctor to express why he supports or objects to your case, so you can also react accordingly.
Medicinal cannabis still has a long way to go as a fully accepted alternative medical treatment. But the potential is very high, especially since many patients can attest to how it helped them deal with their conditions better.
So, take that first step to explore medicinal cannabis with the guidance of a cannabis doctor. Who knows, this could be the treatment you have been looking for all along.