As more research studies are completed, the medical community is expanding the list of roles cannabis could play in promoting and maintaining human health. With this information in hand, more physicians have been authorizing medical cannabis to their patients. The number of patients in Canada has been growing steadily over the years, with major spikes in the last two to three years.
How do you authorize medical cannabis?
Physicians should know the basics, including the information that goes on an authorization, as well as the paperwork the patient will need. Dosages, the treatment period, and the patient’s needs must all be considered. The precautions outlined in the ACMPR also need to be accounted for.
Physicians who are interested in authorizing medical cannabis for their patients should follow these five guidelines.
1. Medical Cannabis Isn’t for Everyone
The first thing a physician should note, as he or she would with any medication, is that medical cannabis is not the right treatment option for everyone. In fact, there are many precautions you should take.
Medical marijuana is not recommended for patients who have a history of mental illness such as schizophrenia or psychosis. Cannabis can sometimes trigger the symptoms of mental health conditions, causing anxiety, paranoia, and other undesirable effects. This is especially true for younger patients.
People who have asthma or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) are not optimal candidates for inhaled cannabis, though they may be authorized cannabis oil or prescribed prescription cannabinoids as an alternative. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding also shouldn’t be authorized medical cannabis. Other precautions can be found in the ACMPR.
2. Dosages Are Highly Individualized
For most prescription medications, physicians will consider a patient’s height, weight, age, and sex when deciding on the recommended dose. While those factors are still at play for medical cannabis, optimal dosages vary widely from individual to individual.
Many patients can achieve an optimal effect with relatively low doses. Others may require higher doses to achieve the same effects. Different strains and methods of administering medical cannabis also play a role in finding the right dose.
Physicians and patients alike may need some patience here. Start with a low dose, and slowly increase the dosage as needed.
3. There Are Different Forms of Medical Cannabis
If you’re concerned about authorizing a patient to use medical cannabis due to smoking risks, you should also know there are different forms of medical cannabis available. Smoking is not the only options your patient has.
Vaporizing dried cannabis, as well as prescription cannabinoids and cannabis oils provide excellent alternatives for patients and doctors who are concerned about the long-term risks of smoking.
4. Authorization Is Still Needed
The Cannabis Act has now been passed and will take effect later this year. The Act legalizes recreational usage of cannabis for all Canadians.
The ACMPR is still in place, however, and it will continue after recreational marijuana is legalized. Your patients still need an authorization for medical cannabis.
An authorization allows the patient to legally carry the appropriate dosage, even if it is higher than the legal limit outlined in the Cannabis Act. An authorization helps protect your patients.
5. A Medical Cannabis Clinic Can Offer Advice
If you’re hesitant about authorizing medical cannabis to your patients for any reason, the expert staff at a medical cannabis clinic can offer assistance. They can follow up with your patient, provide patient education and consultation, and issue a recommendation or an authorization.
You can refer the patient to the clinic or issue a recommendation. The patient can then get a second opinion. The medical staff at the clinic will assist the patient in making the right decisions for their situation.
You too can seek guidance at a medical cannabis clinic. When it comes to authorizing medical cannabis for your patients, you want to know you’re doing it correctly.