National Doctors’ Day: Questions to Open the Medical Cannabis Dialogue | Marijuana

National Doctors’ Day: Questions to Open the Medical Cannabis Dialogue


The Supreme Court ruled that physicians cannot be investigated, threatened, or punished by federal regulators for recommending medical marijuana to their patients. Although the law protects doctors, how should a patient go about bringing it up in the first place? Whether you’re already a medical cannabis user or interested in getting a recommendation, it’s reasonable and recommended to seek insight from the person tasked with helping you care for your body.

A study published in the journal J Psychoactive Drugs found medical cannabis patients fear stigmatization from the perception others will have of their cannabis use.

“The perceived stigma of being a medical marijuana user was profound enough that the majority of respondents never asked their regular physician about the possibility of using marijuana to help treat their health condition, but instead sought entrepreneurial ‘medical cannabis consultants’ and ‘medical cannabis clinics’ in order to obtain a doctor’s recommendation and a valid patient ID card,” the study noted. “This method, according to the patients, seemed one way to avoid potential embarrassment and stigma with their personal physician.”

This topic is tricky, so here are a few pointers to help you navigate discussing medical cannabis with your doctor.


Your conversation with your doctor is confidential

The information you provide your doctor during an appointment is confidential. Physician-patient privilege legally prevents the communication between a patient and their doctor from being used against the patient in court. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 mandates data privacy and security provisions that protect your medical information.

Know the medical marijuana laws

Before bringing medical marijuana use up to your doctor, you should know your region’s cannabis laws and regulations. These vary state to state, and if you live in one of the states where cannabis is illegal, you may find your doctor is hesitant to discuss the matter. As for those in decriminalized states, there are a few things to become familiar with. Before talking with your doctor, find out where cannabis is safe to purchase, consume, how old you need to be to qualify, and the possession limits.

Most importantly, ensure your symptoms indicate you have a qualifying condition for which medical marijuana may be prescribed. Most of these questions can be easily answered with some internet research about laws and regulations in your state or country.

Most physicians know about Cannabis scheduling, not it’s properties. It’s possible you’ll be the first patient to ask your doctor about it. Before you talk to your doctor, learn the basics of the endocannabinoid system and how phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) interact with it.

Understand what’s in your marijuana products

Lab analysis is one way to determine what compounds are in your cannabis. Growing conditions, drying, curing and extraction processes have an impact on the final product’s cannabinoid and terpene makeup, as well as the presence of unwanted substances.

The method of administration also determines the ultimate effects you might feel after using a particular product. It’s important to accurately keep track of what works in order to use a cannabis product effectively for medicinal purposes.

Preliminary questions to ask your doctor

Okay, so you’ve done your homework. You’ve confirmed that your ailment is a qualifying condition, reviewed the rules established by your state, and know which medical cannabis products you’d like to use. Here are some questions to ask your doctor before diving deep into your symptoms and sharing your research.

Do you provide medical cannabis recommendations?

If they answer yes, you can skip right to creating a treatment plan that works with your current lifestyle and will help you reach your health goals. On the other hand, if your doctor says “no,” you can always follow-up with:

Would you be comfortable making a recommendation under these circumstances?

Explain to your doctor what your symptoms are and how you expect medical cannabis use to help. Keep in mind, the existence of CB1 and CB2 receptors and endocannabinoids is probably not “breaking news” for your physician.

If your physician still has no interest providing a recommendation, seek a second opinion and point to the research available about cannabis as medicine to familiarize your doctor with its potential.

Establishing a cannabis treatment plan

If your doctor is familiar and comfortable with creating a cannabis treatment plan, here are some key questions to ensure you’re both on the same page.

How familiar are you with the endocannabinoid system?

I am currently, or am planning on, using A to help with B. What are your thoughts?

Are there methods you suggest I avoid?

Could cannabis use interfere with anything else I’m taking?

Are there other holistic or natural ways I could remedy this issue?

If your doctor is completely shut off from medical cannabis and you live in a medically legal state that doesn’t mean you are shut off, too. Many licensed and qualified doctors exist in states with medical marijuana programs and patients have a myriad of options.

About Author

Allena Braithwaite is's dynamic Multimedia Coordinator and purveyor of all things in 420-friendly lifestyle. When she’s not drawing weird stuff or watching something spooky with her kitten Lib, she can likely be found globbing down dabs of West Coast Cure. Born in L.A. and raised in the Inland Empire, she attended college at The Art Institute of California completing a Bachelors of Science in Advertising. With ambitions almost as big as her hair, Allena strives to use all her resources to inform, educate, and advocate cannabis and hemp. To summarize in the words of @guapdad4000, “I’m a nerd, but I trap; and I ‘aint never gonna get out the game.” P.S. don’t forget to recycle!


  1. Ken Merriman MD on

    I usually tell my pts ( I do work for a med cannabis cert clinic in Mich) that honesty is the best policy in dealing with primary care physicians and others EXCEPT when it is not. I have seen quite a few pts who were summarily “fired” from practices for even asking that records be forwarded to us ( so I do tell them to ask for copies of records and then send them personally) / so the stigma is alive and well that’s for sure

    I suggest that if pts want to breech the subject with their doc that they start out with “well Dr Jones what do you think about this whole medical cannabis thing” then decide where the discussion goes based on the reply
    I try to keep a list of “reasonably cannabis friendly docs” to dive to pts who have been drummed out of practices ( one of whom had been a pt for 20 years and only asked for records to be sent to us )
    unfortunately a large % of docs have very little knowledge as regards cannabis and a good bit of negative thought although I do see it trending in a better direction Let’s hope the future will be better but no guarantee as we have seen backward steps elsewhere such as in the Netherlands

  2. Nice to have the 420 friendlies that totally understand. I’m 44yrs 420 friendly,55yrs alive. Keep up the awesome work ridding opioids.

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