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Broaching the subject of medical cannabis can be intimidating. Whether you are a medical cannabis patient yourself or you are asking as a caregiver for someone else, bringing up an illicit substance in the exam room can be tricky. Many people forego telling their doctor about their cannabis treatment out of shame or the fear of repercussions. While caution is natural, here are four easy tips for talking to doctors about medical cannabis.

1. Be honest, direct, and transparent

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It’s important to keep in mind that asking about medical cannabis or admitting to a doctor that you consume the herb is not illegal. In fact, doctors are legally obligated to keep your communications confidential. This means that it’s safe to be open and honest about why you’re using medical cannabis, what you hope to achieve, and why you think it might help.

Overall, you are your own best health advocate. While doctors and care teams certainly want to see you healthy and thriving, there is no one that can monitor your health as closely as you can yourself. Or, in the case of a caregiver, sometimes it’s necessary to take an assertive approach to finding what works and what does not.

Admitting to consuming cannabis while pregnant or giving cannabis to a child, however, is a bit of a different story. In some regions, these actions can lead to a call from protective authorities.

Those nervous about this may want to inquire cautiously to get a feel for how your care team reacts to the topic of medical cannabis. It’s also important to engage in a conversation about their concerns, as they are likely pertinent to the safety of a child or infant.

2. Share as much information as you can

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The more detailed you are in describing your experience, the better a doctor can treat you. If you’re inquiring about medical cannabis before trying the herb, it may be beneficial to share what symptoms you are having trouble with and why you believe that medical cannabis can help.

If you are working with a doctor on finding the best medical cannabis treatment, there are a few things that would be helpful to share. Some of them include:

  • What consumption method are you using?
  • What types of strains are you using? High-THC or high-CBD?
  • What dosages are you taking?
  • Are there any additives to your cannabis products?
  • Are there times when you consume cannabis more heavily than others?
  • Have your symptoms changed since starting medical cannabis?
  • Are you experiencing any new symptoms or side effects?

3. Ask your doctor questions

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While some doctors may be pressed for time and rushing to their next appointment, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible while you have a captive audience. The more you ask and the more details you share, the closer you’ll be to finding a treatment plan that really works for you.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will medical cannabis interact with any of my other medications?
  • What type of cannabis would be the best for my particular condition?
  • How do you recommend that I consume my cannabis?
  • Do you know of any studies or research on cannabis and my particular condition?
  • Where can I find reputable information about cannabis?
  • What side effects should I expect?

4. Know when to move on

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Doctors are more open to cannabis than ever before. Still, it;s not uncommon for some to shrug off medical cannabis as a recreational past time. Worst case scenario, your care team doesn’t bite.

While doctors do have the right to dump patients, if you and your healthcare professional adamantly disagree about medical cannabis, it may be time to move on or to get a second opinion.

Finding a canna-savvy doctor can be a challenge. However, it never hurts to do some research in your local area and call for a consultation. If you’re lucky, some health care professionals offer a free 15 to 30-minute chat prior to accepting you as a new patient. During this time, you can inquire about the clinic’s familiarity with medical cannabis or get a sense of their feelings on the subject.

If you have one nearby, a local dispensary may be able to give you more information on how to find nearby cannabis doctors. While only medical cannabis patients are allowed in dispensaries, calling is always a nice option.

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