Title: Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient
Written By: Dr. Kamal Morar, MD, MBA
This blog post is the fifth in a series of posts from Dr. Kamal Morar, co-founder of Duber Medical and interventional pain specialist. In this series, Dr. Morar examines current day hurdles and solutions that medical marijuana can offer patients as they seek alternative and effective solutions to their chronic medical conditions.
We’ve explored the science behind marijuana, as well as some of its early legalization history, and the emerging shift in mindset around its medical use. So what does it look like once you become a medical marijuana patient? From my experience, many of my patients use it with great success. I’ve seen patients move away from multiple, traditional prescriptions, instead using MMJ to treat their medical condition with minimal side effects.
But this doesn’t mean that becoming a medical marijuana patient lays out an easy track to wellness. MMJ patients still face multiple hurdles when trying to access the medicine that is right for them.
Currently one of the biggest hurdles for patients is the lack of trustworthy and accurate resources in learning which cannabis products to try. Patients would like to be able to discreetly talk to a doctor and not worry about being judged when it comes to medical marijuana. Moreover, many patients feel anxiety and guilt because of the negative stigma behind it. In the absence of physician guidance on medical cannabis products, patients often seek out information on their own, turning to content on unfiltered websites populated mostly by recreational users. According to a survey concluded in September 2015, 46 percent of respondents said the main reason they avoid telling their doctor about health issues is that they feel embarrassed or are afraid of being judged.
Legalization of marijuana for medicinal use would not only increase availability to trained physicians, but more physicians would be more willing to discuss marijuana use with their patients because of the reduced stigma.
“Healthcare providers, whether they are pro, neutral, or anti medical marijuana need to leave their prejudices outside the exam room. Physicians need to create a climate where patients feel they can be open with us, so that we can know if and how they are using medical marijuana.”
Part of the reason Duber Medical was founded was out of my passion for ensuring patients had access to educated doctors who are committed to fostering this open and honest dialogue.
But even when patients find such a doctor, there still isn’t an easy, straightforward way for purchasing cannabis products designed to alleviate specific symptoms of medical conditions. Currently, obtaining and using medical marijuana is fraught with roadblocks, even in states that have legalized medical or recreational use. Some of the obstacles we regularly hear about from patients are:
- Insurance will not cover medical marijuana
- There are a limited number of licensed cannabis dispensaries that are often very far from a patient’s home, especially those that live in rural area
- Products in dispensaries don’t clearly indicate what symptoms they may help alleviate, so there is a trial and error period until a patient finds what works for them, which can often be costly
For any patient interested in getting a medical marijuana card and making purchases at a dispensary, obtaining a physician recommendation is an important first step. Trained physicians can not only verify patient medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis, but more importantly, they can identify and educate patients on potential complications such as drug interactions and how to avoid products that can lead to high risk behavior. Lastly, physicians can explain combination therapies with different routes of administration. This is why education is a key part of our mission at Duber Medical, ensuring our customers can heal better with a guidance and personalized plan as they begin or continue their journey as a medical marijuana patient.
(27): “Leading reasons patients in the U.S. avoid telling doctors about health issues as of 2015”