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Quick tips for talking with your doctor


Published: 11/16/2015

by David Ferrer

Lucas goes on to suggest that conversations about medical cannabis that are candid and transparent serve everyone's best interest. “Good questions lead to even better answers,” he says.

While as many as 92 per cent of Canadians hold their physicians in high esteem it's no secret that many patients struggle to engage them in meaningful conversations. In fact, one study suggests that while patients voice a strong desire to engage in shared decision making about treatment options with their physician, several obstacles, including feeling the need to defer to their doctor and not wanting to be labelled difficult, inhibit those discussions.

But what about when the topic is medical cannabis? Recently, the Government of Canada introduced new regulations related to how Canadians can obtain cannabis (commonly known as marijuana) for medical purposes. These new rules, called the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations or MMPR, mean physicians are the sole gatekeepers to medical cannabis in this country.

So how do patients broach a conversation about medical cannabis with their physician and ensure it reflects both their preferences and needs?

Philippe Lucas, Vice president, Patient Research and Services, at Tilray, one of Canada's largest licensed producers, suggests that patients do their homework and come prepared to discuss both how they feel and why they think medical cannabis might be a viable option for them.

“Unfortunately, medical cannabis is still a relatively misunderstood, though promising, therapy which comes with its own long-standing stigma,” says Lucas. “The key to overcoming that is information. The body of evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis is rapidly growing and patients shouldn't be afraid to share how they feel, and any research they find, with their doctors.”

Other tips to help patients discuss medical cannabis with their physicians include the following:

1. Share your experience. Be prepared to talk about how you are feeling as well as any medications you have tried to help manage your condition. Talk about what's worked and what's not worked, and why you think medical cannabis might be a possible solution.

2. Share your research. Have you discovered clinical studies online or come across other research to support your argument? Being proactive in looking for information helps demonstrate your proactive commitment to a productive and informed discussion.

3. Share the journey. MMPR is still a new system. Physicians and patients are still exploring what the new rules mean for the treatment of various conditions. Be patient if you or your physician still have questions and be prepared to continue the conversation. Together, you are more likely to find the best solution for you.

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