Maybe, maybe not! It depends on a few different factors so let’s start with what we know.
The Problem Explained
The idiom, “the cart before the horse,” best describes how people consuming cannabis far outpaces the available knowledge from medical experts. Since cannabis is still categorized as a Schedule 1 Substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, randomized controlled clinical trials, the gold-standard in research, are few and far between. The lack of data as a result of the Schedule 1 Substance therefore contributes to the drought of cannabinoid therapy expertise amongst healthcare professionals. As a result, there are significant gaps in medical education when it comes to learning about cannabis through the traditional approach and physicians are hesitant to recommend cannabis to their patients because they rarely receive unbiased quality training concerning the substance (Rubin, 2017).
Medical professions are unable to rely on the Physicians’ Desk Reference, an annually published anthology of prescription drug information, for any data regarding dosing, drug interactions, or side effects and consequently lack the knowledge to guide patients who seek medical cannabis advice (Rubin, 2017).
Increased Cannabis Access, Increased Use
The likelihood of healthcare professionals encountering patients that consume cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes has increased due to expanded access and legalization across the United States. Over nine million results arose after a quick Google search for “talk to your doctor about cannabis.” In a 2018 survey, researchers at the University of Michigan reported that 30% of medical cannabis users disclosed that their primary healthcare provider was unaware of their medical cannabis use and an additional 14% were uncertain if their primary doctor knew about their use (Kruger & Kruger, 2019).
What if a patient fails to disclose their cannabis use to the medical team? What if the medical team is not knowledgeable of the modifications necessary for a cannabis consumer? If patients are reluctant to have candid conversations with their doctors, nurses, and pharmacists about their cannabis consumption, there is a potential risk for complications. Who will patients turn to?
Public Health Concerns
Research suggests dispensary employees and cannabis companies fill in the educational gaps which is a resounding public health concern. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises to avoid cannabis use in pregnant women due to potential harmful effects on the fetus (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2017). Similarly, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) cautions pregnant and breastfeeding women on cannabis use; every cannabis container in the state has the following warning printed on it: “There may be additional health risks associated with the consumption of this product for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning on becoming pregnant” (2017). Yet in 2016, a statewide cross-sectional study in Colorado captured the recommendations and responses from 400 medical and recreational dispensaries when an anonymous female caller pretended to experience morning sickness during her first trimester of pregnancy; as a result, 69% of the dispensaries recommended cannabis products to manage nausea (Dickson, Mansfield, Guiahi, Allshouse, Borgelt, Sheeder, Silver & Metz, 2016). Only 31.8% of the dispensaries recommended the caller speak to a health care professional about taking cannabis and another 49.7% of them recommended contacting a doctor after being prompted by the caller (Dickson, B., et. al., 2016).
Dispensaries based recommendations on their personal opinions and 36% of those dispensaries stated that cannabis use is safe to use while pregnant (Dickson, B., et. al., 2016). We assume that the pregnancy and cannabis issue is just one example of potential concern. If all healthcare professionals had the knowledge and resources to speak with their patients about cannabis, would a nauseous pregnant woman resort to advice from a dispensary budtender? Public health risks could be mitigated if budtenders were not the first line of inquiry and medical providers were equipped with cannabinoid therapy knowledge.
So, what can you do?
Locate a healthcare practitioner from the Realm of Caring’s list of providers. The healthcare professionals shown here are listed per their request and they are not affiliated with the RoC. It is merely a resource for our members who are seeking contact information for healthcare professionals who are open to talking about cannabinoid therapies.
Also, if you are a healthcare professional and would like to list your practice on this page, please click here to learn how! Our Care Team is here to help you navigate proper dosage as well as any other questions you may have when starting your cannabinoid therapy journey, based on data from our IRB approved observational research registry. Call us at 719-347-5400 option 1, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website and sign up for a free client account at www.realmofcaring.org.
The Realm of Caring Foundation specifically invokes the first amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press without prejudice. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. the products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any disease. Realm of Caring always recommends when and wherever possible that licensed local healthcare professionals be consulted.
The Realm of Caring Foundation is an independent nonprofit with its own governing board. We do not produce or sell cannabinoid products, nor do we receive funds from the sale of other company’s products.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2017). Marijuana use during pregnancy
and lactation. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion
No. 722, 205–9.
Dickson, B., Mansfield, C., Guiahi, M., Allshouse, A. A., Borgelt, L. M., Sheeder, J., Silver, R.
M., & Metz, T. D. (2018). Recommendations From Cannabis Dispensaries About First
Trimester Cannabis Use. Obstetrics and gynecology, 131(6), 1031–1038.
Kruger, D. J., & Kruger, J. S. (2019). Medical Cannabis Users’ Comparisons between Medical
Cannabis and Mainstream Medicine. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs,16.
Rubin R. (2017). Medical marijuana is legal in most states, but physicians have little evidence to
guide them. JAMA, 317(16), 1611–1613. Retrieved from doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0813