Why most cancer patients don't talk to their doctors about cannabis

Published Oct 31, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Lordn

Most jurisdictions adopted systems for medical cannabis recipients long before complete reform was ever considered. Yet now that we have a flourishing recreational industry, those who need the plants to benefit the most have been cast aside in exchange for profit. Though the majority see this as unfortunate, most assume patients are getting what they need in this newfound world of weed. It’s sold in nearly every city, accessible and legal. Still, far too many who get through each day thanks to the medicinal elements of cannabis are afraid to even broach the subject with their family doctor.

1. Fear of judgment/ridicule

Doctors are the first ones to tell us about all of the ways we’re living unhealthy lives. It’s quite literally their job, which is generally a good thing, but just like anyone, they are capable of taking personal opinions and judgments just a little too far. Some physicians despite scientific evidence to the contrary, are adamantly against the idea of cannabis being used as a medicine, and that can lead to uncomfortable discussions for patients who are already nervous about touching on this subject with their healthcare providers.

2. Few benefits come with transparency

Prescription cannabinoids are misunderstood and few and far between, which leaves little appeal for the average consumer who has learned how to manage their symptoms with raw products, but that’s not the only problem. There are so few benefits for those who’d like to be transparent, like the fact that insurance rarely covers this type of prescription, that it often doesn’t seem like it’s worthwhile to mention medical cannabis to a family doctor.

3. Doctors aren't generally well educated on the subject

Even if a patient were to be interested in discussing CBD for cancer with their doctor, chances are pretty high that the medical professional in question would have very little to offer in terms of advice, direction or guidance because it is not a requirement for those who hold a medical license to learn much more than 4 hours’ worth of lectures on the subject. Of course, some doctors and specialists go out of their way to get educated on medical cannabis just to help their patients. Sadly, very few feel it’s worth the time and expense involved to do it.

4. The thought of learning about legal, prescription cannabinoids is overwhelming

The thought of using prescription cannabinoids is still an entirely foreign concept to many people, even in this progressive day and age. For some, the issue is that they aren’t sure they want to commit to using an entirely different product they don’t understand in place of the flower they know and trust, but for most, it’s simply a lack of access to reliable information sources to learn. Is there really any point in telling a doctor you’re interested if neither of you knows enough to sensibly compare the possible effects or benefits? For many, this idea is terrifying.

5. Few wholeheartedly believe that it could cure their cancer

Cannabis has never been a cure for cancer, though some have claimed to have success treating certain types of cancer without medical supervision or confirmation, and this fact alone is enough to scare some patients away from having a serious discussion with their family doctor about a medicine that could truly change their quality of life. This is especially true when a doctor sounds confident and set on a more traditional cure or treatment. In this fragile state, talking about any less than a cure might feel like a complete and total waste of time.

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