If you are suffering from a chronic illness and haven’t found pain relief using pharmaceutical medicine, your next alternative could be medical marijuana. Marijuana has, for a long time, been considered illegal in most states. However, there are currently 33 states, including the District of Columbia, that have legalized its use for medical purposes only. The marijuana plant contains a variety of chemicals (cannabinoids), but only cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are used in medicine.
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The FDA (Food and Drug Administration Board) has only approved marijuana to treat Lennox Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, which are severe and rare types of epilepsy. Currently, available research shows that marijuana can treat anxiety, pain in cancer patients, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, nausea, lupus, and appetite loss.
Even as research continues to be carried out on Marijuana, it is considered a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because of its likelihood to be abused. Can you, therefore, get a prescription from any doctor?
Who Can Prescribe Medical Marijuana?
On the Federal level, marijuana is still illegal; therefore, doctors cannot prescribe it for medical purposes. However, a doctor or any other health physician, licensed by the state, can provide a recommendation to use marijuana. It is important to keep in mind that you can only get a recommendation in states where it is legalized and that laws differ from state to state.
Although research is still ongoing on how medical marijuana can be used in treating various diseases, patients are actively seeking to use it as an alternative. However, doctors who are unfamiliar with the existing research may hesitate to recommend it. Also, some doctors simply don’t approve of its use except when all other medications fail to work.
If you are looking to use medical marijuana, it is important to consult your physician, as some patients are not suitable candidates for this treatment. Describing your symptoms accurately, including a list of therapies you have tried before and how they have failed, as well as explaining to your doctor how marijuana can be a good option for treatment, will increase your chances of getting a recommendation.
A medical marijuana (MMJ) doctor can recommend or sign a written recommendation for marijuana use once a patient is approved. The patient can thereafter purchase marijuana from dispensaries that are licensed by the state. MMJ doctors are accorded privileges and rights to practice in a particular state; they are just as qualified as other doctors.
At the dispensary, recommended patients are required to provide their certification, a medical marijuana card, and a form of ID such as driver’s license to prove that they are members of that state. Staff members can then determine the kind of marijuana that suits their illness and the method of consumption they can use, for example, tinctures, edibles, and tonics.
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Why Are Many Doctors Hesitant to Recommend Medical Marijuana?
Doctors have a responsibility to save lives and follow the authority, whether governmental or medical. Whenever they go contrary to regulations, they face disciplinary and financial risks through permanent loss of jobs or unpaid suspensions.
Marijuana has numerous side effects that could alter a person’s coordination and judgment, leading to injuries and accidents. If recommended to a teenager, marijuana could affect their mental function and IQ as their brain is in its developmental stage.
Other side effects such as depression, hallucinations, fast heart rate, bloodshot eyes, low blood pressure, and dizziness could make an illness worse or lead to other complications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, patients could end up misusing marijuana leading to addiction and the use of other hard drugs. High levels of THC and constant usage increases the chances of dependency.
Although the sale of medical marijuana is regulated and monitored, it is difficult to monitor patients. It can result in illegal sales, especially to minors, addicts, and the general public for pleasure purposes.
Marijuana remains illegal in some states, and where it is legalized, doctors can only recommend its use but not give a prescription like in other pharmaceutical drugs. Only cannabidiol and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol have been legalized by the FDA to treat severe forms of epilepsy. Research is still being carried out on whether it can treat other conditions such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
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Many doctors can recommend medical marijuana; however, others are hesitant as they do not have enough information to issue advice or dosage requirements. A medical marijuana doctor can write a recommendation or sign one, provided marijuana can help in treating a patient’s condition. Patients who have a recommendation can then purchase medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary where they are advised on the most suitable marijuana and how to use it.