While the laws vary, nearly all states that have passed comprehensive medical cannabis programs require that patients first obtain a recommendation from a physician before registering with the state’s medicinal cannabis program or visiting a dispensary.
Finding a physician that acknowledges or is willing to discuss and recommend the medicinal properties of cannabis can be challenging, depending on where you live. However, with legalization expanding throughout the U.S. and scientific studies continuing to demonstrate cannabis’ therapeutic benefits, more and more physicians are beginning to recommend Cannabis to help reduce symptoms and treat many diseases.
Selecting any type of doctor for you or a loved one is always challenging. You’re putting your health into someone else’s hands, so it’s important that you find a medical professional that you can trust and is open to finding the right treatment methods.
Here is a brief guide to help you find a local cannabis-friendly doctor that will provide a compassionate, non-judgmental, and detailed treatment plan:
Ask for Recommendations
Getting a reference of a cannabis-friendly physician that your friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers already trust and like can be a great way to find a doctor. It adds great comfort being able to go into your initial appointment when you know that a loved one has already had positive experiences with a physician. Your friend or family member will be able to tell you about whether a doctor has a warm or more direct bedside manner, which can help you decide before setting up an appointment whether a physician’s approach works for you.
If you already have a doctor that you feel comfortable with, but she or he is unwilling to provide you with a recommendation, ask them if they have a recommendation for another physician who will. That way you know you’re going to visit with a physician that your primary doctor respects. Also, it can help streamline the recommendation process if when you visit a cannabis-friendly physician, your regular doctor has already diagnosed you with a condition or symptom of which medical cannabis could help.
Connect with a Cannabis-Friendly Physician on ECHO
ECHO has established a Doctor Initiative to help patients who are seeking access to medical cannabis and cannabinoids connect with supportive medical professionals. The doctors who participate in our program are active on our ECHO Community site, allowing you to get into direct contact with them to ask questions or make appointments. By opening a free profile on the community site, you can find a find a cannabis-friendly doctor in your local area.
Visit our ECHO Community site here.
Look for Physicians or Clinics that Promote their Pro-Cannabinoids Stance
Finding a physician through Internet search is also an option. When searching for doctors, keep an eye out for practices and medical clinics that are likely to recommend alternative, non-traditional treatment options. Often times, these clinics will feature words like natural care, wellness, or holistic in their names or promotional materials. The medical professionals at these types of health offices are more likely to be open to medical cannabis treatments than the physicians who base their treatment methods on pharmaceutical therapies.
“Try Out” a Doctor
It’s smart, and completely within your rights, to set up an introductory phone call or initial appointment with any doctor. There are many doctors out there who acknowledge the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis, but not all are the same. The relationship you have with your doctor is one of the most important that you’ll ever have and taking the extra step to better understand a doctor’s decision-making style and his or her experience with your condition and cannabinoids is a great way to begin building a trustworthy relationship.
Once you’ve located a local cannabis-friendly doctor, go ahead and set up an introductory phone call or appointment. During the first visit, ask yourself whether the doctor is making you feel comfortable, and is giving you an opportunity to ask questions and answering them thoughtfully.
You could ask the physician:
- What is your experience with patients with my particular condition or symptom?
- What are common treatment methods you’ve recommended for my particular condition? Is cannabinoids something you often recommend?
- Can I weigh in when I have ideas about my care?
- What types of effects have you seen cannabinoids make on patients with my condition?
- Can you tell me about your medical education?
Looking for more information on how to get legal access to cannabinoids? Visit our education page.