5 Questions to Ask Your Medical Marijuana Doctor
If you have just scheduled your appointment with DocMJ because you would like to get your medical card, you may not know what to expect at your first marijuana doctor’s appointment. Making choices about your wellness is a big deal, and the best place to start is with expert advice from a caring practitioner.
Let’s explore five important questions you can ask your marijuana doctor that will help you get the most value from your appointment while providing the information you need to get better symptom management results using medical marijuana.
1. Can Medical Marijuana Provide Relief From My Symptoms?
Medical cannabis can be an effective way to improve symptom management. Many patients try using medical marijuana when other types of therapies (including prescription medications) have not provided the level of relief they want. It can be frustrating when you are trying everything you can to cope with symptoms like pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, and spasticity.
More research is needed to learn about the ideal strains and potency of cannabis for medical use, specific to certain symptoms and health conditions. But right now, patients with a medical card can get guidance from their marijuana doctor and local dispensary to learn about strains that are chosen by patients with similar conditions.
Discuss Your Symptom Management Goals
When we use the term “explore” for medical cannabis, that is because you may try several different types of products, strains, and potencies before you find a few that work well for your needs. When you are talking to your marijuana doctor, discussing your medical history is important to help you set your expectations and symptom management goals.
The physician will ask about your symptoms and how they impact your ability to complete everyday tasks. If you intend to try medical marijuana for chronic pain, the physician may have you complete a pain inventory. A short survey to indicate the locations where you feel pain, the severity of discomfort, as well as the frequency at which you experience pain symptoms.
Our friendly physician will help you decide whether medical cannabis is right for you. Making the doctor aware of your symptom management goals will help you develop your own personal treatment plan. A roadmap you can follow with a medical expert who shares the same goal; helping you find relief.
2. What Kind of Medical Cannabis Will Be Most Effective?
Most people track their symptoms, so they can see progress or know what types of medical cannabis seem to work best for their ailments. There are over seven hundred (700) different types of cannabis strains. Each strain has a unique profile, including minor cannabinoid and terpene content.
Many doctors know that what works for one patient may not provide the same relief for a different patient with a similar medical condition. Some day we may have enough clinical data to know exactly what strain or potency can be “prescribed” to a patient. But for now, it is a matter of trial and error, experimenting with small quantities of different strains until you find what works for you.
Suggestions About Strains Of Medical Marijuana
Cannabis healthcare providers are different doctors because they have experience guiding patients on the use of medical marijuana. After consulting with tens of thousands of patients in alternative health practices, you can feel safe asking for expert advice about specific strains and medical cannabis products that may help.
No matter what your health condition or specific issues may be, the best course of action is to get advice from knowledgeable resources (doctor and dispensary) before you purchase medical cannabis. Some strains may have psychoactive or physiological effects that can make symptoms worse, particularly for mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
Determining The Right Potency For Your Needs
When patients have been experiencing pain or discomfort for a long period of time, their natural impulse is to purchase higher-potency medical marijuana. The thought is that stronger potency will result in more relief, but that is not always the case.
There are potential risks for people who use cannabis concentrates on a regular basis. That is medical marijuana products with a potency of 40% THC or higher. While a cannabis overdose is rare, it can happen, and the risk of possible interactions is higher for patients using high-potency medical marijuana on a regular basis.
A better idea is to learn more about minor cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN). Minor cannabinoids and terpenes contribute to the physical and psychoactive effects (and relief potential) of medical marijuana.
Ask your doctor for their recommendation on the right potency of medical cannabis for your needs. They are likely to suggest a strain that is 15% to a maximum of 20% THC, with a high ratio of cannabidiol (CBD), which may help with inflammation-related pain.
3. Do Any Of My Medications Conflict With Cannabis Use?
Medical marijuana can be contraindicated (or conflict) with other medications. Ask this question early in your appointment to identify whether you are taking any prescription medications that may cause possible side effects when combined with medical marijuana.
If you are taking one or more prescription medications that conflict with cannabis, the physician cannot approve you for a medical marijuana card. Cannabis may cause adverse effects and reduce the effectiveness of the prescription drug(s) you are taking. For some patients, this may result in nausea, but for others taking cardiovascular, anticonvulsants, or blood thinners, the combination can be life-threatening.
4. What Times Of Day Are Best to Take Medical Marijuana?
Depending on the route or type of medical cannabis you consume, the effects can last anywhere from 2-3 hours. Edibles have the longest duration of effect, particularly for people who have not used medical cannabis before.
For example, the effects of an edible can last up to seven hours and longer in some cases if it is metabolized on an empty stomach. The same is true for a cannabis tincture, which can last approximately 6-8 hours.
Timing and the type of medical marijuana intersect, and patients need to learn how their bodies will react. For example, recreational users of cannabis may have a tolerance that means the effects can wear off more quickly compared to someone with low to no cannabis tolerance at all.
Cannabis topicals and cannabidiol (CBD) can be used any time of the day as they do not cause impairment. Many patients choose to use both during the day and use medical marijuana when they get home, after dinner. Ask your doctor for a proposed dose schedule.
5. How Often Should I Use Cannabis Products?
Depending on the particular health condition, patients may find using medical cannabis once per day sufficient. Others who have debilitating symptoms that affect their ability to work or conduct daily activities may want to consume cannabis 2-3 times per day.
Your medical marijuana doctor can provide suggestions to help you get started. Schedule your appointment today for a medical marijuana recommendation with DocMJ.
A U.S. Army Reserve Veteran (Major), Dr. Dotson graduated from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, College of Medicine. Dr. Dotson also served as Clinical Adjunct Faculty at the Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. For more than thirty years, Dr. Dotson has provided quality patient care specializing in ophthalmology and family medicine, and he is a Certifying Physician for DocMJ.