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The use of medical cannabis is becoming more widespread now that it’s legalized in 33 states and the District of Columbia. If you’re a nurse or doctor who can legally prescribe medical cannabis, teaching your patients about this treatment and how it works can bring them one step closer toward achieving better health and improving their medical conditions.

The following tips can help you advocate for patients who may be seeking medical cannabis.

Explain How Medical Cannabis Works

The cannabis (marijuana) plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids—each of which produces different effects depending on which receptors they bind to in the body and brain. THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids when it comes to cannabis. THC offers therapeutic effects of reducing pain, nausea, and inflammation. CBD offers similar health benefits and more without producing a psychoactive high like THC.

When explaining to your patients how medical cannabis works, discuss the differences between different cannabinoid ratios and how that will affect their symptoms. If your patients are concerned about a psychoactive high, assure them that you can prescribe medical cannabis that can effectively improve their condition or symptoms without producing a psychoactive high. Recommend your patient discuss this concern with a licensed medical cannabis pharmacist for best results.

Talk About How Medical Cannabis Can Be Used

Medical cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, ingested, applied topically, or taken as a liquid extract. Each consumption method has a different onset time and depends on your patient’s tolerance level. Smoking or vaporizing medical cannabis produces near-immediate effects, while medical cannabis edibles can take up to 2 hours to start producing medical effects. Smoking cannabis is not medically recommended since this method burns off the majority of the therapeutic medical cannabinoids.

Talk to your patients about their options for using medical cannabis and about which method may be most ideal for them based on their personal preferences and medical condition.

Discuss Possible Drug Interactions

Medical cannabis is highly therapeutic when used on its own, but may cause unexpected adverse reactions when used with certain types of medications. When discussing medical cannabis with your patients, ask about the medications they’re currently using and help them stay safe by educating about possible drug interactions. Medications that may cause adverse reactions when used with medical cannabis include warfarin, pentobarbital, oxymorphone, and disulfiram. 

Want to learn more? Visit our new clinical cannabis channel

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