Who should be responsible for prescribing cannabis?

Published Apr 23, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / CapturedNuance

We have long known that the cannabis plant holds an entire world’s worth of benefits that can help millions of people, but it wasn’t until recently that we saw those beliefs confirmed through research. Even with decades of surveys, clinical trials, and experiments under our belts, we have only uncovered a small fraction of what cannabis-derived elements like terpenes, cannabinoids, and terpenoids can do for us, but one thing remains clear, and it’s that those who need it the most seem to have the most difficult time accessing medicinal grade products.

That is why cannabis enthusiasts, experts, and advocates say that things need to change, and one of the first adjustments to be made, should be an expansion of the list of individuals who qualify to prescribe pot products for health reasons. Right now, doctors are the only ones with this powerful privilege, but that should change, and we’re going to cover the reasons why along with the professions that are best suited to offer cannabis as a therapeutic treatment.

1. Doctors

Regular doctors are the only individuals who can currently prescribe medicinal cannabis products, but the problem is that they are not forced to offer, encourage, or support a patient in this kind of treatment. When it comes to any other type of medicine or medical advice, it is expected that a doctor will provide all potential options so that we can make informed medical decisions that can significantly impact our lives, but cannabis is often overlooked or ignored completely, and that really needs to change.

2. Nurses

Most people highly respect doctors as they go through years of education and dedication to make it where they are today, but their assistants are the ones who spend the most time on average with patients. Doctors spend an average of 5 minutes per patient, while nurses and assistants tend to be the ones to develop a closer bond because they can spend up to 5 times longer with every person. Yet as of now, only registered doctors can actually write a prescription.

This is, unfortunately, an incredibly challenging barrier for those who wish to inquire about a more natural treatment, especially with cannabis being the taboo topic that it remains today. A closer relationship to a patient means that they will be more comfortable having an open conversation about obtaining a medical marijuana card. Allowing nurses to prescribe different types of weed would provide patients with a second option and opinion in their medical care without having to find a new doctor.

3. Mental health experts

We know that most types of weed offer medicinal benefits when it comes to things like pain, lack of appetite, and nausea, but we don’t often recognize the advantages that this therapeutic treatment can offer for mental health issues. Many who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, stress and many other psychological conditions head to their psychiatrist, counselor, or psychologist instead of a doctor because it’s more convenient, affordable, or simply already a part of their daily routine.

Considering what we have uncovered in this respect, it just makes sense that anyone who holds a position that specializes in mental health should be able to prescribe different types of weed products. That means all three of the professions mentioned above and anyone else who is qualified to assess the status of an individual's state of mental health.

4. Dermatologists

Now we are all aware of the physical difference that medicinal strains can provide, and then the mental health improvements that can be made, but topicals are relatively new to the industry, which is why you probably never would have guessed that people could benefit from having access to a dermatologist that can prescribe it. However, the truth is that cannabis creams, oils, ointments, and other topical products could all be helpful tools for specialists who work with common skin conditions.

Several cannabinoids and terpenes that are in all different types of weed products have now proven to be beneficial for nourishing the skin, with oils, in particular, offering a range of all-natural moisturizers, but they can be used for so much more than a healthy glow. CBD specifically comes with anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that are excellent for reducing inflammation and killing off harmful bacteria, but unfortunately, you can’t get a medical marijuana card from this kind of physician.

Conditions that may benefit from medicinal cannabis topicals

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Acne
  • Dermatitis
  • Rosacea

5. On-site assessors

Our current medical care system doesn’t integrate much with cannabis, which is probably why there is no official job position for an individual who has a vast knowledge of the plant and its elements without a doctorate. The problem with this is that there are millions of cannabis enthusiasts who would absolutely love to learn about different types of weed and its effects, but they often aren’t prepared to dedicate several years’ worth of school to becoming a doctor, in order to use their knowledge in the real world.

This new position could do several things that none of the others on this list can, as the job could be solely to provide education, recommendations, and prescriptions for cannabis products for just about any kind of medical condition. Right now, we have something close to that with cannabis consultants, but their ability is limited to basic help with navigating the different types of weed products, but they cannot write a prescription or offer a medical marijuana card.

These people could operate hand in hand with all different kinds of dispensaries to provide a service that removes the need to find a doctor who is willing to help you with a prescription, and it could make the option the most convenient for those who aren’t comfortable with seeing a doctor with this issue. The final and perhaps most important benefit that could come from this would be accessible individuals who are educated in all things cannabis, including what it can do for you, which types to take, and how it might interact with other prescription medicines.

The need for a higher education

Convincing doctors who are in the field today to offer patients cannabis products as an option doesn’t appear to be working, because, despite all of the fascinating evidence to prove their effectiveness, some just don’t want anything to do with something that was not long ago an illegal drug. Many that are ok with weed as a therapeutic treatment can’t offer adequate advice to patients, and don’t have the time to do so.

Though we might not be able to get everyone on this list properly educated and certified to give cannabis-related advice, one thing is clear, and it’s that patients everywhere need easier and more efficient access alongside consistent and more trustworthy advice. Anyone who is licensed to write a prescription for a medical marijuana card should have to come to the table with a complete education, and until that happens, patients everywhere will continue to suffer in silence.

Why a medical marijuana card is worth the trouble

Medicinal cannabis is no longer all the buzz now that recreational dispensaries are popping up pretty much everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth your while to seek a medical marijuana card. Sure, you can access legal recreational products at any time without one, but having one offers perks like an increase to how many plants you can grow, product discounts, exceptions in certain residential consumption laws, and peace of mind, as with it you can prove that cannabis for you is a medicinal necessity.

Is recreational cannabis too strong for medical patients

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