Talk to Your Doctor About Your Marijuana Use

Talking to doctors about your alcohol and tobacco use has long been a pretty standard aspect of medical visits. (Whether you’re 100% truthful is another matter entirely.) But both of those drugs are legal pretty much everywhere, so folks feel far more at ease discussing them with their physician (especially when they’re not being 100% truthful). This brings us to cannabis and the decades of stigma and legalities that surround it.

Even in this day and age of widespread legal medical and recreational cannabis, it stands to reason that many folks may still be uneasy about discussing issues marijuana-adjacent with their health care provider, particularly in places where it remains illegal. But even those states where cannabis isn’t across the board legal, it’s still important to discuss your use and the effects it has on you, as honestly as possible, with your doctor.

You have doctor patient confidentiality, which means what you say to your doctor is between the two of you. No respectable doctor, especially in this age, would breach that confidentiality with law enforcement over cannabis use. If for no other reason, you could subsequently sue them for malpractice, and doctors don’t like to be sued for malpractice. Feel safe in proceeding with the sharing of this information.

Regardless of its legal status in your area, marijuana is medicine. You wouldn’t hesitate to discuss what prescription or over the counter medicines you’re currently taking with a doctor. Why should marijuana be any different? Chances are, whether you know it or not, you’re taking it because it delivers some kind of healing, medicinal properties to you (most likely to your mental health).

Doctors have for years been trained to think of cannabis as a street drug. That attitude is slowly shifting, but it’s through patient testimonials that that shift can happen even faster. To my mind, the #1 reason to have this discussion with your healthcare provider is because only you have the power to help change the medical industry’s outlook on cannabis. We can all join in the shift away from big pharma to cannabis-based treatments. If cannabis helps you, your doctor needs to know about it. We the people have to drag our doctors kicking and screaming into this glorious new age of cannabis. The medical industry will be absolutely resistant to it until we normalize it through regular discussion.

Conversely, it’s important for your doctor to know about your cannabis use in the event it is affecting you adversely. It could be something as simple as the cause of congestion, cough or a chest cold or something deeper, like the cause of drowsiness, depression or anxiety. (My mental health tends to not respond well to Indica strains, for instance.)

The more we normalize our cannabis use, the better for all of us. Recently I was chatting with someone who did just this for the first time, and she said while her doctor said he was forbidden to talk about it (Forbidden! Can you believe that?! And this is in a state where medical cannabis is legal!), he was quite happy to hear that it was helping her with her condition. So that’s one doctor receiving a positive patient testimonial down. Now for the other million.

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