Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001. Only recently, however, has it been embraced by the medical community. A growing body of research is beginning to demonstrate just what medical cannabis can do for human health.
As more research evidence becomes available, more healthcare practitioners are warming to the idea of medical cannabis. As a patient, you may have already been mulling over your options. Now you want to try medical cannabis. First, you’ll need to get a recommendation.
What Is a Recommendation?
A recommendation is also known as a referral, and it comes from a medical professional, such as your family doctor. It is a document suggesting you are a candidate for benefiting from medical marijuana. The doctor indicates their reasoning, including the condition to be treated, other treatments that have been tried, and their own expert opinion on whether you stand to benefit from medical cannabis.
The recommendation is not an authorization, which allows you to carry and use medical marijuana. Rather, the recommendation is a document allowing you to seek out an authorization.
Why Do You Need a Recommendation?
Some medical professionals may skip the recommendation and give you an authorization. The authorization outlines the dose you’ll take, for how long, and for how long the authorization is valid.
Many medical professionals feel they don’t know enough about medical marijuana to offer authorizations. Instead, they’ll provide a recommendation. You can then seek out a medical cannabis provider and talk to the doctors and nurses on staff. These people are in a better position to provide an authorization since they have expert knowledge about strains, dosages, and more.
Obtaining a Recommendation
In the past, it was difficult for most people to get a recommendation from their family doctors or other healthcare practitioners. Although attitudes are changing, it can still be difficult to obtain a recommendation.
Some doctors resist writing recommendations because they don’t believe there’s enough evidence that medical cannabis is effective. They may not think the evidence is strong enough that medical marijuana helps your particular condition, or they may not be aware of recent research.
Always come prepared to explain why you believe medical marijuana could benefit you. If you can, locate recent medical and scientific research about medical cannabis use for your condition or symptoms associated with it. If you have concerns, such as opioid use, make them known to your doctor.
Be Prepared to Try Other Options First
Many medical professionals remain skeptical about the uses of cannabis in the medical field, and perhaps rightly so. Research is only in its infancy, and more studies need to be completed before cannabis will be shown to be truly effective or not.
As a result, many medical professionals see cannabis as a last option. If you’ve tried everything else, then they may finally write you a recommendation.
Of course, if you believe medical cannabis is the right choice for you, you likely don’t want to spend months or even years testing other possibilities that may or may not work. This is why you need to be prepared to make a strong case to your doctor. Nonetheless, you should also be prepared to try other treatment options first.
If you’ve already tried other treatments but were dissatisfied with them, then press your doctor a little more. In today’s healthcare system, patients must advocate for themselves.
Ask for a Referral
If your doctor won’t budge on the issue, you could ask them to refer you to a medical marijuana clinic for a consultation. They may be more open to this, since it places evaluation of the situation in the hands of someone with more knowledge about medical cannabis.
As research shows more promise, it should become easier to receive referrals, recommendations, and authorizations. Until then, patients must be prepared to advocate for their health and their best interests.