A few years ago, medical marijuana made headlines when parents reported that a drug called Epidiolex helped control seizures in their children with rare forms of epilepsy. There’s more evidence that it can help with other conditions, such as fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, and chronic pain, and for controlling nausea from chemotherapy.
What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana is a drug that is grown legally for people with specific medical conditions. It may help relieve pain, sleeplessness and nausea, especially from chemotherapy or other treatments. State laws vary on which conditions qualify for medical marijuana, but it can be used to treat many illnesses and disorders including AIDS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, MS, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe or chronic pain.
It can also be taken in forms that you don’t smoke such as pills, oils and nasal sprays. However, smoking marijuana can cause breathing problems such as bronchitis and may be linked to psychotic disorders in some people.
The FDA has approved the cannabinoid-based drugs cannabidiol (Epidolex) for certain types of seizures and dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) to reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and to stimulate appetite in people with AIDS.
Can medical marijuana help with my condition?
The pain caused by his injury made it hard for him to sleep, which affected his mood, work performance and family life. He knew it was time to seek a new treatment.
Marijuana is used to treat conditions including chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. However, marijuana can affect thinking and memory and increase the risk of accidents. Smoking it may damage the lungs and cause cancer.
The FDA has approved two drugs that contain synthetic versions of cannabis compounds, dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and nabilone (Cesamet). Dronabinol treats nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and anorexia associated with HIV/AIDS. It also helps ease the symptoms of some MS patients with spasticity. But there is not enough evidence to show that marijuana can help with many other conditions, such as glaucoma or posttraumatic stress disorder.
How do I get a recommendation for medical marijuana?
Every state’s medical marijuana program is different, but generally a doctor has to recommend you for cannabis treatment. They may not prescribe it, but they can write a letter saying they believe in your condition and that it could help you.
If your doctor doesn’t agree, you can try finding another one who will. Many online services, like Veriheal, let you book an evaluation with a physician who is familiar with medical marijuana and knows the qualifying conditions in your state. These evaluations are risk-free, so if you’re not approved, you don’t pay.
Then, you can apply to your state’s agency to get a medical marijuana card. This card allows you to legally purchase and possess medical marijuana products at licensed dispensaries or receive cannabis delivery from a regulated company. You’ll need to provide proof of identity and residence (like a driver’s license) and usually pay an application fee.
How do I get a medical marijuana card?
Patients can access medical marijuana in New York if their health care provider certifies them for the state’s program. This certification can only be done by registered medical professionals that are licensed in the State of New York to practice medicine.
During an appointment, the registered practitioner will discuss your medical condition and determine whether it qualifies you for the state’s medical marijuana program. If the answer is yes, they will certify you as a patient and enter your name into the registry.
Caregivers can also be certified to purchase, cultivate, store and prepare cannabis on behalf of their patient. Currently, caregivers must be either a parent or legal guardian of the patient, an individual authorized by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) or a registered professional who has been approved to represent a patient.
Medical marijuana can help with a number of different conditions. We would love to hear your story about how it has helped you.