The number of patients using medical cannabis has been steadily increasing. With more research available, medical professionals are considering cannabis as a treatment option for a wider variety of patients more often.
Many Canadians are also becoming more aware of medical marijuana as a potential therapy to help them manage a number of different symptoms. In order to use medical marijuana, however, you must qualify under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
You might ask, “Do I qualify for medical cannabis?”
If you’re under the age of 25, have a history of mental health issues, have a history of lung or breathing conditions, or fall under another restricted category, you may not qualify. These four factors are some of the most common reasons patients don’t qualify for medical cannabis.
1. Your Age Can Affect Your Chances of Being Authorized Medical Cannabis
If you’re 25 years of age or younger, your physician may be reluctant to authorize medical cannabis for you. Although the ACMPR doesn’t set restrictions on age, and medical professionals do authorize cannabis for young people, when it’s appropriate to do so, there are concerns.
Current research suggests younger people should avoid cannabis use. Cannabis appears to have negative effects on normal development in younger individuals. In particular, it appears to contribute to the development of psychotic symptoms on a more frequent basis.
Doctors may be more open to authorizing cannabis for you if you’re over the age of 25. Of course, age isn’t the only potential barrier to receiving an authorization for medical marijuana.
2. Medical Cannabis Isn’t Recommended for Those with Lung Problems
If you have asthma, your doctor may be reluctant to authorize medical marijuana for you. The ACMPR is clear on this point as well. Since the most common method of administering medical marijuana is smoking, it isn’t usually recommended for those with a history of lung conditions or illnesses that cause difficulty breathing. There are other options though.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those with conditions such as asthma won’t be recommended dried cannabis for inhalation. However, they can safely take cannabis oils or prescription cannabinoids. This isn’t a complete restriction, but it’s a factor you should consider if you have lung problems.
3. A History of Mental Health Conditions Could Prevent You from Accessing Medical Marijuana
Another factor that could prevent you from receiving cannabis for medical purposes is a history of mental health conditions. While some initial research suggests cannabis might help alleviate symptoms associated with some mental health conditions, there’s also evidence it could make them worse.
People with schizophrenia or psychosis may find medical marijuana worsens their symptoms. THC, the psychoactive agent in most cannabis strains, is usually responsible. Given this risk, many medical professionals don’t recommend cannabis for those whose mental health may be at stake.
4. You Have a History of Substance Dependence
Many professionals believe medicinal cannabis can help counter the current opioid crisis. Many patients have been prescribed powerful opioid painkillers. Over time, they become addicted to these substances. Others may not have had medications prescribed to them but have become addicted to other substances, such as alcohol.
The ACMPR recommends against authorizing medical marijuana for those who have a history of substance dependence. The concern is that people who have this history may also come to depend on cannabis.
Cannabis has been demonstrated to be much safer and much less addictive than many other substances, including opioid medications, and emerging research suggests it could be helpful in combating opioid dependence among Canadian patients. Nonetheless, a history of substance use and dependence could mean your doctor won’t authorize medical cannabis for you.
These factors, among others, could prevent you from receiving medical marijuana. Keep in mind these precautions are designed to protect your health. Work with your doctor and remember, there are other treatment options available.