Top Questions to Ask Your Medical Provider about Cannabis

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If you’re considering medical cannabis in Maryland, it’s important to conduct research on the alternative treatment before making an appointment with your medical provider. Once you’re ready to discuss this option, ask the following questions:

Does my condition qualify for medical cannabis use?

Many physical and neurological conditions are listed as viable for medical cannabis in the state of Maryland, but it’s important to check with your trusted physician before jumping headfirst into this alternative treatment. Qualifying conditions in Maryland depend on the severity, if traditional medications have failed, and other stipulations.

Is medical cannabis safe for me to use?

While cannabis isn’t fatal, it’s also not for everyone. Your trusted physician should consider your age, qualifying condition and severity of symptoms, previous medical and family histories, current medications, and other important factors before prescribing this alternative treatment.

Will cannabis affect my other medications?

When discussing this option with your trusted physician, you must be completely honest about current medications, including dosage and method of administration. Medical cannabis can affect traditional medicine and lead to unwanted side effects if not carefully prescribed.

What are the side effects?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exact side effects of medical cannabis because, like with traditional medications, each qualifying patient reacts differently. While cannabis can help with glaucoma, eating disorders, and cancer, some risks are associated with this alternative treatment.

Leaf Science, “a media brand dedicated to [sharing] the most accurate information on cannabis”, and Marijuana Doctors, a “trusted gateway for patients searching for medical marijuana treatment in legal medical marijuana states”, concluded the following side effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Decreased motivation
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Dependency
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations 
  • Heightened sensory perception
  • Impaired balance
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Memory impairment
  • Paranoia
  • Red eyes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Urinary retention

What is your suggested method of administration?

In the United States, your trusted physician can prescribe topical treatments (oils, lotions, transdermal patches), pills, sublingual sprays, inhalation (vaporization and smoking), and ingestion. Other methods include tinctures and suppositories, according to United Patients Group, an online resource and trusted leader in medical cannabis for physicians, patients, and organizations.

Does health insurance cover medical cannabis?

Even though medical marijuana is legal in multiple states and Washington, D.C., patients have to pay for it out of pocket. According to a 2012 NPR report, paying for marijuana prescriptions out of pocket is expensive, between $20 and $60 for an eighth of an ounce.

This is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Until the FDA approves the drug, federal health insurance won’t cover it in its plan.

However, the FDA could declassify the alternative treatment (and subsequently include it in federal health insurance) if unbiased, clinical studies are performed to prove medical benefits. For this to occur, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration must issue a permit to researchers to purchase and experiment with cannabis, but the federal government is largely reluctant.

Insurance Quotes predicts that the first companies to cover this alternative treatment will be employer-funded and state-regulated insurance programs, which are typically more flexible than federal plans.

Some states like Massachusetts offer discounts to low-income patients, while other states reduce the required registration fees. Some states allow patients to grow their own marijuana, further reducing the cost.

In 2013, Washington D.C. legislators proposed a regulation where D.C. medical cannabis dispensaries would be required to put aside 2 percent of profits to subsidize medical marijuana for low-income patients.

If you’re looking for more information on the benefits of medical cannabis or who to talk to about this alternative treatment, contact Peninsula Alternative Health in Salisbury, Maryland.