The medical community has recently become more interested in medical cannabis and its potential role in promoting and maintaining human health. As the body of research increases, science is learning much more about what cannabis can and can’t do when it comes to patient health.
In recent years, interest in cannabis has grown exponentially among both medical practitioners and patients alike. The number of Canadian patients has increased, which means more physicians and other healthcare professionals are embracing medical cannabis.
Many physicians are still asking, “Should I authorize medical cannabis to patients?”
There are many reasons physicians should authorize medical cannabis for their patients. While it’s good to be cautious and ensure you understand the current science, medical marijuana is proving to be an effective option for many Canadian patients.
Before you authorize medical cannabis, you’ll likely have several questions. Here are some of the most common questions physicians ask when considering cannabis as a treatment option.
1. Has Medical Cannabis Been Proven Effective for Any Condition?
One reason many physicians have hesitated to authorize medical cannabis for their patients is the lack of research. With little to no evidence supporting cannabis as an effective treatment for many conditions, physicians are well within their rights not to authorize it.
The growing body of research will no doubt change current understandings of what medical marijuana can do and what role it can play in promoting and preserving human health. Currently, there is good evidence to support its use in reducing nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, reducing symptoms of chronic pain (especially neuropathic pain), and reducing spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). There is also emerging evidence that CBD can help reduce the number and frequency of seizures.
As for most other conditions, the jury is still out. Additional research is needed.
2. Are There Any Restrictions on Who Can Use Medical Cannabis?
This is an excellent question, and physicians should be aware of precautions and recommendations for who can be authorized medical cannabis.
Precautions and restrictions include not authorizing patients who have a history of lung disease or asthma, a history of mental illness, or a history of substance use and dependency.
3. Is It Safe for Patients?
Some types of therapies are very effective, but they pose dangers to your patients’ health. A good example is opioid medications. Many physicians have prescribed these treatments for patients with a variety of conditions. Unfortunately, opioids carry with them a high risk of dependence, and overdose is quite common.
Medical cannabis, on the other hand, is a much safer alternative. Research so far indicates a lower risk of dependence, and it is impossible to die from a cannabis overdose.
4. How Do You Determine Dosages?
Dosages for medical cannabis are somewhat different than other medications, so physicians would do well to familiarize themselves with cannabis dosing. It can be quite difficult to find the optimal dose for a patient right away. The best advice is to start low and go slow.
5. Will Patients Be Able to Afford Medical Cannabis?
When you authorize or prescribe any medication, you need to ensure the patient follows through with the treatment regime. If the treatment is out of the patient’s price range, they may not be able to comply with your directions.
Unfortunately, medical cannabis prices can be quite high. At the moment, only one insurance provider offers a private policy to help cover the costs. The provincial governments offer no assistance.
6. What Can You Do If You Have More Questions?
If you’re just beginning to authorize patients to use medical cannabis, you may have more questions. Your patients may also have questions, some of which you may not be able to answer.
The experts at a medical cannabis clinic can help you. The more you know before you begin authorizing medical cannabis, the safer your patients will be and the more they’ll benefit from this treatment.