According to some recent surveys, researchers are consistently finding that patients believe their medical providers lack sufficient knowledge about cannabis’ health and safety effects.
This finding is not surprising as there has been little education in the medical school curriculum and minimal continuing education to those who desire to recommend medical marijuana usage. In Florida, the only educational requirement besides an unrestricted physician license is a 2-hour CME course, which provides little to no instruction into actual medical marijuana efficacy. This CME focuses mostly on the state laws and regulations of the system and thus does not offer the marijuana providers the needed knowledge when navigating the growing field of marijuana medicine.
If a physician’s goal is to determine at the most basic level if marijuana is suitable for a patient to utilize and if the risk of complications is minimal or not, most doctors can meet the state guidelines and do this. However, meeting the bare minimum educational requirements in any medical specialty is certainly not in the best interest of patients. External certifications recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties offer an essential distinction to providers. It displays that the physician had a lengthy fellowship and has met the educational, professional, and examination requirements to receive the honor of board certification in their field. Many competent physicians choose not to pursue this for whatever reason; however, finding a doctor who invests significantly in their education often shows that they will go above and beyond in learning other areas of medicine, such as medical cannabis.
Physicians who look at the state program as an easy way to make money are already doing it for the wrong reasons and likely will follow a pattern many patients have seen before. Often we hear about forced frequent follow-ups, excessive fees, limitations on the methods of use, and little if any patient education. Many are attracted online to different firms that mislead prospective patients. Offers of minimal fees and instant cards are designed to attract those most in need, who find out later that the claims are untrue. They will be required to drive long distances to see a contracted physician or need to be certified “in bulk” with others. Patients must ask detailed questions before selecting any provider, so they do not run into hurdles with completing the Florida MMJ application process. Patients will often find themselves with a recommendation, but no state approval. Most times, patients were just not instructed on the state application process and ended up lost on how to proceed. Believe it or not, many patients fall into this limbo of having orders but no approval. Although the online application may be straightforward and take less than 5 minutes for a more computer savvy patient to complete, many patients seeking medical cannabis do not own a smartphone or computer. Without instruction or assistance, they find themselves frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Always ensure your marijuana doctor will take the time to help you complete your state application. If they are unwilling to do so—find another.
Marijuana Knowledge & Patient Education
It is extremely beneficial for patients to find a doctor who can answer questions and provide them with educational materials to guide them through their journey. Our practice and other well-established and positively reviewed practices, ensure patients have guidance on everything that may be beneficial to them. They will receive materials on what medical marijuana products are available, what may work best for them, where they can go to obtain the products, what MMTCs offer discounts and promotions, and how to fully complete the OMMU application if they choose to do so on their own.
Marijuana doctors should ensure that patients can reach them or another advocate in their office to assist with any questions or concerns that may occur throughout their care. It is important to keep in mind that although follow-ups are only required once per 210-days, a good doctor is hugely interested in how MMJ is working for their patients. They are always available to advise them on what can help maximize the benefit of relief obtained. Many patients seek medical marijuana as a legal alternative to pharmaceuticals or as an option for other unsuccessful treatment methods they have attempted. In most cases, they have tried many other forms of relief and are desperate to find something that works. For many, medical marijuana might offer the relief they have searched years to realize. However, good cannabis doctors make sure patients understand that finding that “dosage sweet spot” and the greatest comfort does not happen overnight. Patients should be informed that it takes a bit of determination not to get overwhelmed or frustrated at all the options available and that everyone’s physiology is different. What strains and consumption methods work so fantastic for some may not benefit others much at all. Patients mustn’t be under the illusion that the first joint they roll will be the guaranteed miracle cure they have been seeking, and it will likely take some trial and error to realize the most significant benefits from MMJ. Medical Marijuana, does work—we have heard so many first-hand amazing stories on how it has improved quality of lives, so find a good marijuana doctor who cares about the patient’s success above all else and work on finding what MMJ regimen works best for you!