Empowering Patients: The Importance of Finding the Right Medical Cannabis Doctor for You
As more states legalize medical cannabis, many patients are turning to this alternative treatment option to address a variety of conditions which sometimes prove to be treatment-resistant or cause undesirable side effects when treated with traditional medication.
Empirical evidence shows medical cannabis can provide relief for a variety of conditions including epilepsy, nausea, chronic pain, anxiety, spasticity and PTSD, as well as autism and neurodegenerative diseases like MS, ALS or dementia (to name just a few.)
However, in Texas, where medical cannabis is legal and highly regulated, some qualified patients are hesitant to try it. What are the reasons for their hesitancy? What do qualified patients need to overcome this indecision and improve their quality of life? How can the right healthcare provider make a difference and how to find the best medical cannabis doctor for you? We’ll address these and other questions below.
Why Do Qualified Patients Hesitate to Start Treatment?
Many qualified patients in Texas may be hesitant to try this treatment alternative due to misconceptions and lack of information. Some may worry about the legality of using cannabis as a treatment option, while others may be concerned about potential side effects or the stigma associated with cannabis use.
Here are some of the most frequent questions that our prospective qualified patients have:
- Does insurance cover medical marijuanas? Likely not. Although 38+ states have medical and recreational marijuana laws in place, cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 substance and therefore it is still illegal at the Federal level. Because of this, most medical insurance companies are unable to include medical cannabis treatments into their plan coverage but check with your insurance company to verify the answer in your particular case.
- Can I pay the visits using my FSA card? Yes, FSA cards are authorized methods of payment, just like any regular debit or credit card.
- Will I experience side effects? While some patients have reported minimal side effects, each person is different. Common, mild side effects include gastrointestinal issues and mild sedation. Medical cannabis may interfere with other prescriptions, so it is best to speak with your doctor about your medical history to determine if medical cannabis is right for you.
- Will it show if I get tested for drugs at work? Yes, medical cannabis patients will have positive drug tests, but this is not an unsolvable hurdle. Patients can have an open conversation with their employer’s Human Resources Department about obtaining an exception due to their participation in the Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and show proof of registration under medical supervision in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) due to a qualifying medical condition.
- What if I encounter law enforcement while having this medication in my possession? Texas utilizes a virtual registry called CURT (Compassionate Use Registry of Texas) instead of a physical medical marijuana card. Access to this registry is granted to three parties: prescribing physicians, dispensaries and law enforcement. As such, law enforcement will be able to verify that you are qualified to have this medication. Additionally, your medication will have your name, prescription, etc on the packaging.
- Can I travel with my prescription? There are no restrictions for qualified patients to carry their prescribed medical cannabis while traveling by land within the Texas state borders provided they keep a copy of their prescription. Carrying your prescription while traveling by air or outside of the state of Texas is not permitted since airports are ruled by Federal law and marijuana is still considered an illicit substance under that law; also, your prescription is only authorized for use within the state of Texas.
You can find answers to other frequently asked questions here.
In our experience, what qualified patients need to improve their quality of life by starting a treatment with medical cannabis is to empower themselves by acquiring the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. Additionally, patients need to develop a relationship with a trusted healthcare professional who can provide quality time, advice and support during their healing journey.
How to Find the Best Medical Cannabis Doctor for You?
Teaming up with an excellent healthcare provider is essential for the success of your medical cannabis treatment. Let us share with you 4 key aspects to consider when choosing your medical cannabis provider:
- Find a provider who is invested in educating their patients: the best healthcare providers are those who prioritize the patient’s well being and go the extra mile to make sure that’s the case. To achieve this, look for a provider who doesn’t rush through your visits. Instead, find one that takes the time to be well informed of your medical history, listens to you, your concerns and your questions, explains how medical cannabis works in your particular health scenario, what side effects are possible and how to address them as well as the initial precautions you should take when getting started with the treatment. Basically you want someone who doesn’t improvise and who is invested in providing you with all the information you need to make informed decisions and rest assured that you are doing what is best for you or a loved one under your care.
- Find a provider who has a comprehensive approach: for a medical cannabis treatment plan to work, it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a customized plan that takes into consideration each patient’s unique medical history, preferences and abilities. The ideal provider should consider your comprehensive care plan including any forms of therapy as well as other medications and evaluate not only what interactions can be derived from combining current medicines with medical cannabis, but also what the most adequate form and dose of cannabis is for the patient’s abilities (for example: can the patient chew comfortably to take a gummy or is he impaired by his condition to do so?) Many of the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis usually require an integrated approach that involves a healthcare team of several professionals. The best medical cannabis doctor for you is one that doesn’t work as a silo but instead is ready to collaborate with other members of your healthcare team to help you achieve your health goals.
- Find a provider that goes beyond just writing a prescription: make sure your medical cannabis doctor goes beyond just doing a quick assessment of whether you qualify for the program or not to immediately send you on your way to pick up a prescription at the nearest dispensary. The best doctor for you is one that spends time explaining not only how medical marijuana can help you but also one who informs you about all the details associated with your prescription.
Before you head over to the dispensary, make sure your doctor has explained the different form (tinctures, gummies) and flavor options, the specific dosage you need to take, onset time of each form, intake frequency and intervals and any other details pertaining to your prescription so you know what you are getting and how to adequately execute your treatment plan. This is key because as opposed to a regular pharmacy where the doctor sends in a prescription and at pick-up you just show up and collect a bottle with your name, medicine and even instructions on when and how to take it, the experience at a dispensary is different. Although similar in that the medical cannabis doctor will send a prescription so the dispensary is aware that you are qualified (which they can also verify accessing the CURT), it’s different because there is no bottle waiting for you with the prescription details. Instead, you get to choose among a variety of products that fit the details in your prescription. Having choices sounds great but it might actually be confusing, particularly for patients who are at the beginning of their journey and might get overwhelmed with the plethora of products available. Knowing which one is best for you is invaluable advice that will save you time and money and give you peace of mind. Unfortunately, not every doctor takes the time to explain all these details to a patient; pick wisely and know what you need to ask before the end of your doctor visit so by the time you show up at the dispensary, you know exactly what works for you.
- Find a provider that is knowledgeable and accessible: it sounds simple and obvious, and yet it’s not always the case. Just like with any other new treatment, many questions pop-up along the way on your medical cannabis treatment journey. You want those questions to be addressed, in a timely manner, by someone who is knowledgeable, not only about the specific cannabis products but also, about your health condition and overall medical history. This is where seeking treatment with a medical cannabis doctor as opposed to picking up some over-the-counter CBD oil makes a big difference!
Well, that and the fact that some conditions require the use of a medical cannabis compound that combines CBD with THC in order to effectively provide relief. Although it is possible to find OTC Delta 9 products with very low concentration of THC (no more than 0.3%,) as well as less potent Delta 8 products, in most cases the required concentration of THC for medical cannabis to be effective exceeds the low concentrations available in the OTC market. This is one of many reasons why consulting with a registered medical cannabis doctor and following a supervised treatment is the most effective and adequate choice in such cases.
So there you have it! Although medical cannabis is legal in Texas, many qualified patients still hesitate before choosing that alternative. Hesitancy can be overcome though, if patients find the right doctor for them, one that is not interested in selling a qualification but rather in establishing a relationship with the patient based on trust, transparency, collaboration, education and keeping the patient’s integral well being as the main priority.
This is what Dr. Matthew Brimberry and the whole team at Texas Cannabis Clinic strive for. If you are a qualified patient, but are hesitant to start your medical cannabis journey, we are here to help.
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