How to talk about medical cannabis with your healthcare professional
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are turning to medical cannabis to treat various conditions. In fact, a 2019 study showed that 1 in 6 Canadians 55 years and older used cannabis for medical purposes.
To access medical cannabis in Canada from a licensed producer, you first need to consult with an authorized healthcare professional and have them complete a special Medical Document.
A great place to start is with your primary healthcare professional, such as your family doctor. They understand your medical history and can track the progress of your treatment. However, not all of them are comfortable with prescribing medical cannabis so it’s helpful to be prepared for your conversation.
Below are some strategies you can use to make these discussions easier and be sure you receive a treatment that is right for you.
Before your visit
Do your research
Your healthcare provider may be unfamiliar with medical cannabis and the ways it can be used as a medical treatment. Educate yourself about your condition and how medical cannabis can help. Print out relevant studies and bring them to your appointment. You can find some research resources here
Track your symptoms
Write down your symptoms, including their magnitude, duration, and the time of day you experience them. Clearly identify the symptoms you feel could be better managed with cannabis. Obtain any medical records related to your condition or symptoms.
Write down existing treatments
If you are seeking medical cannabis as an alternative to treatments you are already using, make a list of those you have already tried and indicate whether they have worked or not.
During your visit
Be honest and forthright
Know that there is nothing wrong or illegal about discussing medical cannabis with your doctor. Explain what you're using—or want to use—and how you think medical cannabis can help.
Ask about the options, benefits, and risks of using medical cannabis for your specific situation. Don’t be shy about asking your healthcare professional about their experience prescribing medical cannabis, and whether some of their other patients have used it before.
Bring along a friend
If necessary, bring a friend or family member to your appointment as moral support. They can also help you to record your conversation with your healthcare professional and write down their recommendations.
After your visit
Register with a licensed producer
To purchase medical cannabis, you will need to register as a customer with a licensed producer.
Determine dosage with your healthcare provider
Medical cannabis isn’t a one-size-fits-all therapy, so finding an appropriate product and dosage should be done with your prescribing healthcare professional. Many patients benefit from using more than one product; for example, one during the day and another in the evening.
Monitor your progress
Keep a written record so that you and your healthcare professional can track the effectiveness and side effects of the cannabis products and doses you try. Spectrum Therapeutics offers an easy-to-use Patient Dosing Diary.
Know your options
It’s every patient's right to decide what treatment options are best for them. If your healthcare professional can’t help, or you don’t have access to a family doctor, Spectrum Therapeutics can help you find you a qualified healthcare professional with experience prescribing medical cannabis.