Weed Health

Should You Tell Your Doctor You Smoke Weed?

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As part of check-ups and examinations, many physicians and healthcare providers will ask about your marijuana habits. As weed consumption is legal in Canada, you don’t have anything to fear about the law. However, some users may feel like keeping it a secret to avoid the judgemental eye of the doctor or nurse. However, if you feel like you should disclose that you smoke weed, you probably should. It could even save your life!

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Should You Tell Your Doctor You Smoke Weed?

Your doctor is not there to police your behaviour; even if they are a suspect of marijuana’s medical benefits, the chances of your physician doing anything more than shrugging and moving on is low. That is unless you have a health problem that can be compounded by smoke inhalation or THC consumption. 

This is why it’s important to tell your doctor if you smoke weed: you might not know how marijuana smoke or the cannabinoids in marijuana may affect current conditions. In some situations, like before or after surgery, disclosing marijuana use is essential; in Colorado, where weed is legal, research in medical facilities say that some cannabis users need higher amounts of common sedation drugs like propofol to put them under during a procedure. Users must also not smoke or ingest marijuana when recovering after surgery, too.

Do Doctors Condone Weed Use?

In Canada, several medical associations and groups representing front-line healthcare workers expressed the need for people to be aware of the potential ill effects weed can have on some users. Before legalization took effect, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Canadian Paediatric Society (among others) shared concerns about the potential ill effects cannabis can have on people, especially young adults. However, medicinal marijuana is not a new concept in Canada – our country began the medical program, managed by Health Canada, in 2001. 

The program offered people access to homegrown cannabis or sales directly from Health Canada, and now, many doctors are comfortable prescribing it as an alternative to pain medications for certain conditions, as it’s less addictive than opioids. Research shows that weed can be used to relieve nerve pain in patients with conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, help with nausea and appetite loss during chemotherapy, and even have positive benefits on conditions like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

Because of its legality, patients shouldn’t be afraid of bringing up weed use with their doctor. If the physician believes that it would affect current medications or would be a bad idea given your medical history, you should respect this decision.

Will Doctors Give You A Weed Prescription?

Many doctors will give weed prescriptions at their discretion. Legalization didn’t change the governance of medical cannabis too much, though the Cannabis Regulations have replaced and incorporated provisions from the previous Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. These changes affected not just patient access to cannabis (to which everyone in Ontario over the legal age of 19 now has access) but also the range of cannabis-related products permitted for medical purposes and the limits of possession, which differ from those related to recreational use.

On the flip side, physicians should be open about a patients’ use of cannabis in all its forms. This can help them counsel on safe consumption habits, the unique hazards it can present to some patients, and to keep users from toking and doing unsafe activities like driving, operating heavy machinery, etc.

Why Do Some Doctors Not Prescribe Weed?

Your doctor, who has an understanding of your medical history, is the best person to talk to about medical cannabis or if you’re a first-time user concerned about how it might affect you. One reason they may not prescribe it is that they are familiar with your medical history and know how it will interact with your body or current medication.

However, not every doctor is up-to-date on the most recent research supporting the use of medical cannabis as a good part of treatment plans for a range of medical conditions and their symptoms. Many doctors may be hesitant to recommend it or fill out a prescription for medicinal marijuana.

If you have a doctor hesitant about prescribing marijuana and you believe it could be helpful, speak up and be an advocate for yourself. Patients deserve neutral, professional, reliable medical advice, and while medicinal marijuana has been with us for a while, many doctors still have a negative attitude towards it based on prior biases.

Frequently Asked Questions Doctors and Weed Use

Before legalization, Canada had a regulatory system in place for medicinal marijuana. Now that Canada has legalized weed usage for everyone, some national healthcare groups have said it’s important to communicate the health problems that can come from chronic cannabis consumption. However, this is not the same as not condoning weed use at all, and much of a patient’s experience talking to a healthcare provider about it depends on the individual physician.

Depending on your condition, many doctors in Canada see a medicinal marijuana prescription as suitable for a wide change of conditions and treatments. If you have a painful condition or one that research suggests can be helped by cannabis, don’t be afraid to bring it up with your doctor. They will know, based on your medical history, whether it’s appropriate.

Some doctors won’t prescribe weed because of your medical history or how it will interact with existing conditions; this is especially true if you have heart or lung issues. However, many doctors also have a biased view of weed and won’t prescribe it, even while not knowing the most recent research. If this is the case but you believe it will have benefits, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself!

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