Finding a Doctor Who Understands How Medical Marijuana Can Help Your Symptoms
Updated: Sep 28
Despite the fact that the majority of adults in the Show Me State could legally use medical marijuana to treat symptoms caused by a long list of conditions, residents still perceive that it’s difficult, or that you have to be severely ill, to get a Missouri marijuana card.
This is not the case, and finding a doctor who understands the benefits of cannabis can help you take control of your wellness plan like never before!
In this post, we are going to take a look at why so many Missouri doctors are still hesitant to recommend medical marijuana even when you ask for it, and how to find a healthcare professional who can guide you through finding the right treatment for you.
Getting a Marijuana Card in Missouri: The Uncomfortable Conversation With Your Doctor
Picture this: You’re at your doctor’s office for your annual checkup. This is the same doctor who told your grandmother she had diabetes, and recommended that your dad start taking statins to control his cholesterol.
Now, you’re sitting on the examination table, wishing that paper gown you’re trying to cover your bits with was just a little warmer, and waiting to get through all the questions about the regularity of your bowel movements so you can ask about medical marijuana for your back pain. Maybe you could stop taking tramadol or vicodin if you could figure out how to safely use cannabis instead.
Your doctor finally asks you if you have any questions, and your heart starts pounding from nervousness. You start to explain that you were reading about using medical marijuana for … and before you can finish, Doc shakes his head.
He tells you he can’t give you a recommendation even if he thought it was the right thing to do, and he doesn’t know enough about cannabis to help you figure out a treatment plan anyway. And that’s the end of the conversation.
This is too often the unfortunate scene when it comes to getting medical marijuana.
Why are Doctors Hesitant to Talk About Medical Marijuana?
If your doctor puts the kibosh on every conversation you try to start about medical marijuana, or they look like a deer in headlights when you bring up cannabis, then there may be a couple of factors at play.
Lack of Peer-Reviewed US Research
We have to be specific about this, because there are plenty of places where you’ll see a lack of research cited as reasoning for indecision about the merits of cannabis. However, cannabis research has been taking place for decades in Israel, where medical marijuana has been legal on a national level since 2013. US-based companies—and even the US government—have been funding medical marijuana research in Israel for years.
The progress elsewhere matters little, though, when we are considering implementation here in the United States. For drugs to be approved for use here, they must also be researched here. And research in the US has been nearly impossible.
Since 1968, there has only been one grower authorized to grow cannabis for research in the US. The UM School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) has a 12 acre farm that all researchers must get their cannabis from in order to conduct any US-based study, and the DEA has to give its approval before any work can begin.
The limits on (and cost of) research have led to a dearth of peer-reviewed US publications and a lack of curriculum in medical school. As a result, doctors often feel uninformed and uncomfortable broaching the subject of cannabis with their patients.
Lack of Support From the Medical Community
Even if your doctor wants to recommend medical marijuana for you, they may not be able to do it because of restrictions placed upon them by the hospital system in which they work. Mercy in St. Louis for example, forbids its doctors from recommending medical marijuana. Even if a doctor simply practices at a Mercy facility, they may not write a recommendation.
When your doctor could lose their affiliation with a hospital system where they practice simply for certifying that you may be a candidate for medical marijuana, they are not likely going to want to discuss the subject with you too deeply. It’s just easier to prescribe some opioids for that back pain and move on.
If You Think You’re Embarrassed, Your Doctor’s Probably More Embarrassed
Believe it or not, doctors are humans, too! They may be trained to handle some of the most embarrassing situations you can imagine, but cannabis is a relatively new subject that they have likely had very little training on.
Your doctor is already pressed for time and probably loaded to the max with patients on any given day. When you stumble and stutter and hint around at wanting to try medical marijuana, it may make your doctor even more uncomfortable. They don’t know much about it, it looks like you don’t know much about it, and there is a line of patients waiting to be seen.
General Practitioners Just Don’t Have Time to Supervise Cannabis-Based Treatment
Circling back to that line of patients waiting for their turn to wear the paper gown and sit on the ice cold table: General practitioners spend between 13 and 28 minutes with their patients, and one in four of them spend less than 12 minutes on an exam.
Because there are so many variations in strain and format for cannabis, it is a highly interactive treatment for patients and their doctors. Supervising your care as a cannabis patient takes your doctor more time than they likely have to spend with you.
Finding a Doctor in Missouri Who Will Talk to You About Cannabis
Finding a doctor who will talk about cannabis with you in a professional context can be a real challenge in Missouri. With medical marijuana being so new to the state, there has been little time for most doctors to adapt and educate themselves.
Figuring out what you need is a good first step in finding a doctor who can help. For some people, the choice to use medical marijuana is simple and straightforward. Maybe you have arthritis in your knee and no other health problems.
For others, it can be a lot more complicated. If you’ve got a diagnosis that medical marijuana is not indicated for, or if you’re taking medications that may have interactions with cannabis, you’re probably going to want to talk to a doctor who is educated enough about cannabis to provide some guidance.
Points to Consider When Looking for a Marijuana Doctor
The first thing you need to decide is how much guidance you want and need from a medical professional when you’re developing your treatment plan. Points to consider include:
How will medical marijuana interact with your current medication?
How will it affect other conditions you may have that are not related to why you’re using cannabis?
How experienced are you with cannabis?
How comfortable are you with the idea of experimenting to get the desired results?
The answers to these questions will help you to decide how much guidance you need as you start a new therapeutic regimen. Obviously, you’ll need a doctor who can be more involved if you are taking medications or have a condition that could be adversely affected by cannabis.
You’ll also want someone who can answer all your questions and help you find the right products if you are new to cannabis, or if you are uncomfortable with the idea of experimentation.
You Know What You Need in a Marijuana Doctor, Now What?
Once you know what you need in a marijuana doctor, finding one is a little bit easier. You may feel more empowered talking to your own general practitioner when you know what to ask for, or it might be easier to simply find a doctor who specializes in specifically providing marijuana evaluations and consultations.
Talking to Your General Practitioner About Medical Marijuana
Your GP is probably not as scary or judgy as you think. General practitioners see a little bit of everything related to bodily functioning in their offices, and your curiosity about cannabis could be the high point (pun intended).
Here are some pointers on how to prepare for the conversation:
Know why you want to use medical marijuana. Is it because of your anxiety? Chronic pain? Multiple sclerosis?
Keep in mind that your doctor’s job is to partner with you in order to devise a health plan that makes sense for you. That’s what you are paying this professional for.
Write a list of your questions ahead of time.
How might taking medical marijuana affect the other medications you take?
How might your other conditions be impacted by cannabis use?
How can your doctor help guide you in the right direction and supervise your care?
What to do if You are Just Too Nervous to Talk to Your General Practitioner About Medical Marijuana (Or if You Don’t Have One)
The unfortunate state of healthcare in 2021 is that many of us have no insurance or coverage of any kind. Many who don’t have health insurance do not have a general practitioner that they see on a regular basis.
If you just can’t bring yourself to talk to your doctor about medical marijuana, or if you don’t have a doctor to talk to, then all is not lost. At Missouri Marijuana Card, we are here to help no matter what your situation is.
Our dedicated staff can answer any preliminary questions you have, and our doctors are happy to help you get the information you need in order to make confident decisions about your treatment plan moving forward. We offer unlimited follow-up visits for the time that your marijuana card is valid through us, and your comfort and care are our top priority.
Call us at (877) 303-3117 or make a telehealth evaluation appointment at Missouri Marijuana Card today, and get the personalized, focused care you deserve without the judgement!