Patients are on the receiving end of a lot of advice these days, much of it is wrong and serves only the interests of the seller.  Nowhere is this more true than in the cannabis industry, where budtenders are often seen as the primary source of guidance.  In fact, as the industry evolves toward treating patients more and more like recreational users, the messaging in public is to skip the doctor and get advice from the dispensary’s staff.  This is great for the company and truly terrible for the patient. 

Why a Doctor Instead of a Budtender?

Patients seeking advice about medical cannabis should consult their doctor or healthcare provider rather than relying on a salesperson (also known as a “budtender”) at a cannabis dispensary for several important reasons:

  • Medical expertise: Doctors have extensive medical training and knowledge of various health conditions, medications, and potential drug interactions. They can evaluate a patient’s medical history, current medications, and specific health needs to determine if cannabis is a suitable treatment option and provide personalized recommendations.
  • Patient-specific considerations: Healthcare providers can consider a patient’s individual health status, including any underlying medical conditions, allergies, or contraindications, before recommending cannabis. They can assess the potential risks and benefits based on the patient’s unique circumstances and maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.
  • Coordinated care: Doctors have a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s overall healthcare and treatment plan. They can integrate the use of cannabis into the broader context of the patient’s medical care, ensuring that it aligns with their existing treatments and medications.  They can operate as part of a patient’s care team, coordinating their expertise with the rest of the professionals.
  • Dosing and administration guidance: Healthcare professionals can provide specific guidance on appropriate dosing and administration methods based on a patient’s needs. They can explain different product options and consumption methods, and help patients make the safest and most effective informed decisions.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Doctors can monitor a patient’s response to cannabis treatment, track its effectiveness, and make any necessary adjustments. They can address any concerns or side effects that may arise during the course of treatment, ensuring the patient’s safety and well-being.
  • While budtenders at cannabis dispensaries may possess knowledge about various products, their expertise is not rooted in medical training. They are not qualified to provide medical advice or consider the medical implications and potential risks associated with cannabis use. Budtenders are focused on product knowledge that leads to sales.
  • Budtenders fundamentally have a conflict of interest as their primary role is to sell as many cannabis products as possible and drive sales.  They are not focused on a patient’s well-being or best interests.  Their only interest is in the bottom line of the company that employs them.  Budtenders often use half-truths, cannabis lore, and other sales tactics to get patients to buy more or other products.  Budtenders often have sales quotas they need to meet. 
  • No amount of training available to Budtenders will equal the knowledge and experience of a medical professional.  If Budtenders want to give medical advice, they should go to medical school.  If you wouldn’t ask your local barista for medical advice, why would you ask the salesperson at a dispensary – their level of knowledge and education is the same. 

It’s crucial to involve healthcare professionals in the discussion of cannabis as a treatment option because they can provide evidence-based guidance, consider potential drug interactions, and ensure that the patient’s overall health and well-being are taken into account. They can also provide ongoing monitoring and support to optimize the therapeutic benefits and minimize any potential risks.

It’s worth noting that many doctors have limited knowledge or experience with cannabis-based therapies due to a lack of formal education on the topic.  This should not unduly concern patients.  Many physicians lack the depth of training in specialized areas of medicine and therefore refer their patients to specialists for co-management, for example, to a Cardiologist.  

Similarly, patients should ask their doctors for such a referral to a Cannabinoid Specialist or seek such a specialist on their own.  A great resource for both physicians needing better education on cannabinoid medicine, and patients seeking a cannabinoid specialist is the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists.  Their website is 

Ultimately, the involvement of a healthcare professional ensures that patients receive accurate, personalized, and evidence-based advice regarding cannabis as a potential treatment option, leading to safer and more effective healthcare decisions.

Consult with a Qualified Boston Medical Marijuana Expert Today

Those considering using THC, CBD, or any type of medicine found in cannabis to help manage their condition should consider speaking to a trained medical expert who is knowledgeable about using cannabis therapeutically. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler, M.D. sits on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has years of experience helping patients treat pain and other ailments using cannabis. He and the team at InhaleMD stand ready to assist patients in determining whether medical marijuana is right for them.

For more information, or to set up a virtual consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 477-8886 today.

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