If you had asked me a few years ago my thoughts on medical marijuana (or cannabis), I would have likely half way nodded, then mumbled something about attending a public health centered presentation on it once and it’s typically a very low dose that is necessary.
As it stands now, I live in a state piloting a medical cannabis program. In the last few months I have seen it presented to an area health professionals networking group I am a part of, observed the launch of a docu-series, The Sacred Plant, and met some representatives from a local dispensary who were set up at a farmer’s market. Therefore, a few weeks ago, I made a point to attend an informational session presented by the dispensary. I also asked my integrative physician (M.D.) about it.
Now, I am one of the many patients who skirts a fine line. I have diagnosis’ (multiple autoimmune conditions) that are similar to those on my state’s list of “approved conditions”, but am not an exact match to the program as it currently stands. Based on some of the information presented in the docu-series, this could be an unfortunate disadvantage. However, the list is apparently evolving and hopefully expanding to be more inclusive for those who could be better served if access to the program were available.
I learned a few key points from an information session on medical cannabis.
Dose and consumption options for medical cannabis are vast and dependent on bio-individual factors. Some trial and error may be required to arrive at appropriate dose (amount, frequency, and compounding proportions). Therefore, a program directed by medical regulation can be beneficial.
Essentially, the two main compounds of interest for medical dose/compounding are CBD and THC. Again, proportioning is very, very personal.
There are oils, tinctures, topical applications, edibles, and hash (which would need to be smoked). Pricing will vary across a somewhat wide range. Again, bio-individuality and specific circumstances will play a role (despite how policy is written).
The Illinois program is designed, in part, to support local growers and be beneficial to job growth/creation within the state. (*No mention of farming methods was provided, such as organic, sustainable, or conventional).
At this point, for my particular state, ONLY medical cannabis is approved. A list of medical conditions will likely be available from your state health department. Some states have approved a recreational dose. Including a recreational provision is thought to support sustainability of the growers and operators within the industry.
The Illinois program is riddled with fees for those seeking a medical card and approval is for a limited duration. So far, no aid based program exists for those who may have need, but cannot shell out the several hundred dollars just to apply for the medical card. A finger print (think forensics) is also required and this represents another fee.
There are also no guarantees of approval and, if denied, there is no refund of the fees. Therefore, it is critical, before applying, to meet with an appropriate representative 100% knowledgeable on the regulatory aspects of the program.
A physician directive is required and, at this point, ONLY the M.D. designation counts (no D.O., P.A., etc). Also, not all physicians are on board. Dispensaries have lists of those open and willing to work with their specific centers if your preferred physician is not comfortable providing a directive. The dispensaries are also aggressively working on outreach at both consumer and professional levels.
Care takers can be designated in order to help facilitate purchasing/pick up from dispensaries and specific approval processes exist for them.
As you can see, there are definitely enhanced options available to those with medical conditions that could benefit from medical cannabis in specific states and/or for those who simply wish to use these therapies in their treatment protocols. However, there are caveats to be considered. It will also take support in planning the financial aspect. Some centers have employed health educators and coaches to help patients in the lifestyle planning facets.
Information sessions and workshops are now being offered by both dispensaries and advocacy groups, but offerings will vary based on where you live. Some groups have been able to line up time and space at local libraries.
A brief overview of possible health benefits of medical cannabis is provided in this Harvard Health Letter published in early 2018.
A broader lens on advocacy, legal information, industrial applications, and synthesis of medical use can be found from NORML.
Further information on costs are synthesized by another dispensary; http://sevenpoint.org/blog/
I would also throw a word of caution that the business aspect of this has become a HUGE topic in both media and on the black market. Due to this frenzy, misinforming media could be out there.
Recently in Illinois, “tainted synthetic pot” led to several hospitalizations and a few deaths. It was eventually linked back to a man in the Peoria area. A Chicago Tribune article provides further details here.