Patients considering using medical marijuana to treat a particular condition often find they have a lot of questions. Medical marijuana isn’t like a pharmaceutical drug that is just given by prescription. With medical marijuana, the doctor provides a recommendation, not a prescription, so it’s up to the patient to decide how to use it and in what dosage.
Your visit to the MMJ doctor may be significantly different from your visit to your primary physician or specialist. While your medical marijuana doctor may also be one of your treating physicians, most patients utilize an MMJ-certified doctor for the purpose of having their state-issued medical cannabis card approved. Today, doctors can issue cards via telemedicine in a quick, 10-15 minute appointment if you meet certain qualifications.
When meeting with a MMJ doctor, here are some questions to consider discussing during your appointment:
If I’m being prescribed pain medicine by another doctor, can I still use medical marijuana?
This question is an important one to have answered by both your medical marijuana doctor and your pain management provider. In Ohio, medical marijuana is recorded on your Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) report. In Pennsylvania, it is recorded in the PA Drug Monitoring Program database. Any provider with access to these databases can see your use of medical marijuana when they access this record to issue your next pain medicine prescription. Some pain clinics and hospital networks remain bound by insurance policies that render them unable to continue to prescribe pain medicine to those who are participating in a medical marijuana program.
Other networks have more lenient policies that allow patients to use both prescription pain medicine and medical marijuana together. So make sure to consult with your pain medicine physician and your medical marijuana doctor before attempting to purchase or use your medical cannabis.
What type of medical marijuana will best treat my particular condition?
After receiving your recommendation, you have the freedom to choose whatever type of cannabis you want at the dispensary. Some patients find smoking or vaporizing helpful, while others prefer tinctures or edibles. Medical marijuana doctors can often help you determine the best form of administration based on your treatment goals, as well as give you advice about the medical research available pertaining to cannabis and your condition.
If you have fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, your doctor may recommend high CBD strains to be taken as a tincture or edible, as inhaled cannabis has been shown to exacerbate these conditions. On the other hand, your doctor may recommend vaporizing if you’re a chronic pain patient who relies on quick bioavailability of high THC doses. It all depends on what your condition is and perhaps what new research your doctor may have recently learned about. Because research on cannabis is finally more accessible than in years past, new studies are coming out every day. Your medical marijuana doctor may adjust what they recommended based on these new findings.
How long is my card good for?
Medical marijuana recommendations can be written for up to a year in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri, and for two years in the state of Oklahoma.
However, recommendations can be issued for a shorter duration of time than that allowed by the state. Be sure to ask your medical marijuana doctor when you’ll have to visit again to renew your card. Your recommendation expiration may also differ from the date that’s printed on your card, so be sure to confirm it. A dispensary cannot dispense your cannabis to you if your recommendation has expired.
Can medical marijuana reduce my use of other medications?
It’s important to discuss what all other medications you are taking with your medical marijuana doctor. Some patients find that they might be able to reduce or eliminate painkillers by switching to cannabis to relieve pain. Other medications that cannabis seems to have some success replacing include sedatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and antidepressants.
There is some evidence that the peppery terpene, beta-caryophyllene in cannabis might be useful for the reduction of alcohol intake. Make sure to talk to your medical marijuana doctor about all of the substances that you’d like to eliminate with the help of cannabis, including alcohol or non-prescription medicines.
Cannabis can interact with some medications, so make sure to tell your doctor everything you’re taking so they can inform you about any potential drug interactions. There also may be specific issues around using medical cannabis for your particular health condition that you need to be aware of, so be sure to share all of your relevant medical history with your doctor.
Can joining the medical marijuana program cause a risk to my employment?
Laws in 20 states prohibit employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their use of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, in Ohio, getting your medical cannabis card does not protect you from discipline or termination by your employer. Employers are fully within the law to make a decision to either hire, move, or demote an employee simply based on their cannabis use.
Every job is a little different, and using cannabis is still cause for termination at many places of employment. Discuss your employment risks with your medical marijuana doctor. They may be able to write a letter of support that confirms you are legally in possession of medical marijuana and that it is recommended as a complementary or alternative treatment option for your medical condition.
Hopefully, this list gives you a good start on questions to consider asking your medical marijuana doctor. Need more guidance? Reach out to us at medicateOH@gmail.com today.
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Medicate OH’s Founder and Publisher is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Northern Kentucky University. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries, including positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop.
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