When seeking alternative medicine, many patients wonder if they are an appropriate candidate for medical marijuana. Initially, patients often turn to the internet. This can be extremely confusing and leave patients with more questions than answers. As medical marijuana is becoming more a business, it can be increasingly difficult to find legitimate research and recommendations about conditions appropriately treated with medical marijuana. Instead of research articles, the internet is filled with ads on medical marijuana cards and buying weed online. So, in this blog post, I would like to educate you on the official recommendations provided by the California medical association.
According to the most current recommendations by the California Medical Association, an attending physician must provide documentation that the patient has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and that the medicinal use of cannabis is appropriate prior to any patient obtaining a medical marijuana card. A serious medical condition is defined to include:
- Chronic Pain
- Persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to spasms associated with multiple sclerosis
- Seizures, including, but not limited to seizures associated with epilepsy
- Severe nausea
- Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either:
- Substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans and Disabilities Act of 1990
- If not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patients safety or physical or mental health.
While several conditions are clearly outlined, the final statement is often times confusing for medical marijuana patients and medical marijuana doctors. Essentially, these last two statements allow physicians to provide a medical marijuana card to any patient who has experienced relief in the past with medical marijuana or who has a condition that is negatively affects any aspect of their life. The most common of these ‘unnamed’ conditions for which patients seek a medical marijuana card are mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and/or bipolar. As stated by the California medical association, if one of these conditions causes harm to a patients mental health, they are a candidate for medical marijuana and are eligible for a medical marijuana card.
Looking closer at the research outlined in the California medical associations ‘Physician Recommendation of Medical Marijuana,’ medical marijuana has been shown to be beneficial in the ‘treatment of pain, nausea, anorexia, and other conditions.’ However, they also state that the literature on this subject is inadequate. Currently, the greatest research has been performed in the area of neuropathic pain, as existing pharmacological treatments for neuropathic pain are not optimal and medical marijuana has shown considerable benefit. While research into medical marijuana may be in its early stages, there has been calls from the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the National Institute of Health for further research to better delineate which conditions can be appropriately treated with medical marijuana.
The most current recommendations state that any serious medical condition qualifies a patient for a medical marijuana card. Until more research becomes available, any medical condition that causes a patient significant disability or harm, whether it be physical or mental, may warrant a trial with medical marijuana. As always, it is important to follow up with your medical marijuana doctor after you start treatment with medical marijuana to monitor its efficacy and side effects. Each medical marijuana patient is unique and should be treated as such. Medical marijuana will often times provide one patient with relief and another with the same condition no relief at all. This is very similar to traditional medications. For example, there are many different classes of blood pressure medication because they do not all work as effectively on every patient. When trying medical marijuana for the first time, make sure to monitor how effectively it is working for you and then discuss this effectiveness with your medical marijuana doctor so that you obtain maximum relief of your medical condition.