Would you ask for medical advice from your local Starbucks barista?  No?  Why?  Of course they’re not qualified to give you advice.  So, why would you ask the budtender at your local dispensary?  Sure, they love to smoke weed, but how is that any qualification to advise you on medical treatment? 

If you have any illness, be it mild anxiety or insomnia to full blown cancer, you deserve proper medical care.  The guidance of your physician should help you get the best results, avoid developing a tolerance and the risk of dependence, and save you time and money getting to the right answers without a lot of mucking about. 

This is true of any medical care, and there is no justifiable reason why cannabis care should be any different!

Let’s think for a moment about what a physician’s role is in healthcare.  A physician’s job is to listen to their patient, noting symptoms, time course, concerns, and other factors that help us understand what’s not right.  Exams may be performed and tests done, but all attempt to lead to a diagnosis and then onto treatment.  Before any treatment, the physician is bound to discuss available options and the risks and benefits of those options.  This is called the doctrine of Informed Consent.  The goal is to provide the needed information to the patient so that the patient can make decisions that are good for them.  It is not enough to recommend a treatment, there must be adequate discussion of why a treatment is being recommended.

Therefore, cannabis physicians must be knowledgeable, caring, and engage with their patient to recommend specific treatment, explain why the recommendation is what it is, and to monitor their patients’ progress, adjusting the treatment as necessary.  This expertise and guidance is what you’re paying for. 

Some physicians participate in practices called “card mills” where they dole out medical cards without providing the care needed.  This doesn’t meet that standard of Informed Consent – and frankly as such, is malpractice.  Sure, card-mills are a cheap way to get a card, but why bother with a card if it comes without any guidance or follow-up?

In states with a recreational program, like Massachusetts, the cannabis card becomes just a tax-free coupon.  Having a card means you don’t have to pay the 20% tax on retail cannabis.  The irony of this is that patients, particularly those who are getting good advice from their physician, need to buy very little cannabis.  So, saving 20% sounds nice, but isn’t that much in real dollars. 

So, the savings aren’t that much.  But, the savings aren’t the point (they’re a nice side-benefit)!  The point is getting safe, effective, caring guidance from your doctor.  That’s worth the price of admission.  If you’re not getting that from your cannabis doctor, you should be!

Nothing could please the cannabis industry less.  At present, they’d like to treat patients as just another cannabis user.  They want to sell as much weed and as many different products as they can.  Nothing would please them more than if you end up using more than is safe and become dependent – that would just increase their sales.  The budtenders behind the counter are such lovely people – but remember they’re salespeople whose job is to sell the product.  Any advice they give is tainted by their sales motive – let alone their lack of qualification to give any sort of medical advice. 

How do you find someone to provide the care you need?  Look at the experience of the clinician.  Have they been doing this sort of medicine for a long time?  Have they got a track record of spending time with their patients and following up with them closely?  Are they readily accessible for questions and problems should they arise?

In my practice, we built the whole thing around providing these kind of services.  We focus almost exclusively on cannabinoid medicine.  We provide ample time with each patient to really listen to them and their concerns.  We educate patients in great detail about how to use cannabis medicine, what to get, and when to use it, so they achieve the best and safest results.  We follow up with all patients routinely, and provide extra communication and visits as needed.  Quite frankly, this is how I would want to be treated and how medicine should be practiced in all fields.  Yes, this means that my practice costs slightly more than some others.  However, those practices, as we’ve discussed, provide no care at all and aren’t worth even their lesser price.  Also, be aware that we have reduced fees for patients covered by MassHealth (Medicaid). 

So, yes, you could buy on the recreational market and rely on the advice of a bunch of unqualified salespeople for your healthcare advice, or you could spend a bit to see a doc who will give you a card but no medical care.  Why would you when you can have the caring and guidance that you deserve?

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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