Although cannabis use has been legalized to some extent in 44 states, there is still a stigma about its use. That stigma comes from the days of old where you had to hide your marijuana use or suffer the legal and social consequences.
We’d like to say that those days are over, but the fear of outing one’s marijuana use lingers for many, even in the doctor’s office. And we’re not just talking about recreational use.
A recent study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research found that 80% of the participants reported that their PCP knew about their medical cannabis use, but 41% reported that their PCP had not always known.
Out of the 275 participants:
- 64% of participants initiated medical cannabis use based on their own experiences, while only 24% initiated based on advice from their PCP.
- Only 14% of the participants obtained their medical cannabis authorization from their PCP.
- 18% rated their PCP’s knowledge about medical cannabis as very good or excellent.
- 21% were very or completely confident in their PCP’s ability to integrate medical cannabis into their treatment.
- 86% had substituted cannabis for pharmaceutical medications. And, of those:
- 69% reported some gap in their PCP’s knowledge of their substitution.
- In addition, 44% reported that their PCP was unaware of the substitution.
This kind of breakdown in communication and the gap in so many PCP’s knowledge about medical marijuana can be detrimental to a patient’s health.
Breaking Past Conditioning
Changing perceptions can be challenging. Up until recently, it was reasonable to be worried about the illegal use of cannabis. The culture of cannabis use in our country has been covert, whether its use was recreational or medicinal.
Fear and apprehension still exist surrounding marijuana use, which is understandable. All you have to do is look at the contradiction between state and federal laws. The federal government still classes it as a schedule 1 drug (illegal), while 44 states have deemed it legal. But there is even a discrepancy between the state laws regarding what is legal and what is not and how you can buy it, which leads to confusion and fear.
Invalid Concerns Around Disclosure
According to the survey, even people who live in legalized states are uncomfortable talking about medical marijuana with their doctor. So even though the legal concerns have been eliminated, patients still have some reasons to fear opening up about their use of cannabis to a physician.
The top concerns include:
- My doctor will report it to law enforcement.
- My doctor will stop prescribing certain medications that I need.
- The relationship will change when the doctor knows about my cannabis use.
- Other people may find out (including friends, family, or employers).
- My cannabis use might be disclosed to insurance companies, which could impact my health insurance rates and life insurance eligibility.
- I might not be bondable for employment purposes.
These fears hold little validity because the most significant source of concern falls under concerns about privacy. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects your medical and health record privacy, so many of these concerns are invalid.
MYTH: PCPs Can Report Marijuana Use to Law Enforcement
The belief that doctors can report cannabis use to law enforcement is a myth for the most part. If the state law says it is fully legalized and decriminalized, there is nothing for the PCP to report.
Suppose you live in a state like Florida, where cannabis can be used for medical purposes when prescribed by a doctor for a qualifying condition. In that case, your doctor has no reason to report you, especially if they were the one who prescribed its use.
Even if you are taking marijuana illicitly, a doctor cannot disclose illicit drug use unless they are subpoenaed to do so. Even then, access to health information is very protected in the United States.
FACT: It Is Crucial That Your Doctors Be Aware of Your Cannabis Use
Although there is still much research to be done around cannabis and its long-term effects on the body and its interaction with other drugs, it has become clear that certain prescription medications can conflict with cannabis.
- When you combine cannabis and Warfarin, you increase your risk of bleeding.
- Smoking marijuana can reduce the effects of Theophylline.
- CBD increases the effects and the side effects of Clobazam.
- Taking CBD with valproate can raise liver enzyme levels and may cause liver injury.
- Daily Cannabis use can significantly reduce the effects of pain medications and increase the potential for opioid or NSAID overdose.
Let your doctor know that you want to use cannabis or already use cannabis as a substitute for prescription medications. By doing so, your doctor can ensure none of the other prescription drugs or treatments you use contradict each other. In addition, if you work with a doctor who understands how patients use marijuana medicinally, they can integrate its use into your overall treatment plan.
No Judgment Here: We Get It
You don’t have to worry- we get it. At the heart of our practice lies a dedication to using marijuana to treat the whole person. In addition, we are committed to continuing our education about how it can best be prescribed and used for a variety of conditions.
Our integrative approach treats more than just symptoms. We want to understand the root cause. So we won’t just prescribe a pill and send you on your way – we’ll take the time to get to know you and treat you as a valued and important patient.
You don’t have to hide and self-prescribe anymore. We can create an integrated approach to your treatment plan and assist you in obtaining your medical marijuana card here in Florida.
With our personal guidance and care, you’ll reach your health and wellness goals and feel your energy and vitality restored with the help of medical marijuana. Schedule an appointment in our warm and welcoming clinic today, and experience the Emerald way.