when doctors can and can't prescribe marijuana
when doctors can and can't prescribe marijuana

When Can Doctors Prescribe Medical Cannabis? (And When They Can't)

What can a doctor prescribe medical cannabis for right now?

Posted by:
Lemon Knowles on Sunday Apr 16, 2023

When Can Doctors Prescribe Medical Cannabis?

when doctors can prescribe weed

Medical cannabis is revolutionizing the way medical practitioners approach treatment: ancient treatments with a modern twist. Its use in medicine dates back centuries, from traditional Chinese and Indian cultures to early Greek and Roman civilizations. Today, its therapeutic effects are backed by science as well, the endocannabinoid system works in tandem with cannabis' active compounds to produce beneficial outcomes for patients suffering from chronic pain, seizures, anxiety and more.

We've come a long way since smoke-filled temples and groves of marijuana trees, medical research is opening up entirely new possibilities for harnessing the power of medical cannabis in ways that continue to surprise us. From mythic origins to cutting-edge technology, medical cannabis stands poised to further transform the medical field with its therapeutic potential.

The Legality of Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis legality depends on where you live. However, the federal government still considers it a Schedule I drug. The Arkansas 2nd amendment bill seeks to protect the firearms rights of cannabis patients. It states that the DOH cannot reveal a patient’s marijuana status during police investigations. This means that while states may have their own laws allowing for medical cannabis, it is still illegal at the federal level.

Doctors can prescribe medical cannabis for patients with qualifying medical conditions that are approved by their state's medical marijuana program. Qualifying conditions vary from state to state but typically include chronic pain, nausea, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

Note that doctors cannot prescribe medical cannabis like they would for any other medication. Instead, they provide a recommendation for medical cannabis. Patients can then take the recommendation to a licensed dispensary to obtain their medication.

 Medical Cannabis Recommendation

The process of obtaining a medical cannabis recommendation varies depending on the state, but patients must first have a qualifying medical condition. They must provide medical records to their doctor to support their claim.

From there, the doctor will thoroughly evaluate the patient's medical history and symptoms to determine if medical cannabis may be an appropriate treatment option. If the doctor believes that medical cannabis may be beneficial, they will provide a recommendation.

Doctors who provide medical cannabis recommendations must be registered with their state's medical marijuana program and adhere to strict guidelines. They must ensure that the patient has a qualifying medical condition and that medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment option for that condition. They offer follow-up care to ensure that the patient is responding well to the treatment.

Obtaining Medical Cannabis Without Recommendation

You can obtain some cannabis products without a recommendation. They include dried flower, tinctures, edibles, and concentrates. The specific products depend on your state and the dispensary you visit. Most dispensaries have various products to suit different needs and preferences.

There are different strains of cannabis, each with unique properties and effects. Some strains  are appropriate for treating certain conditions. As such, doctors must understand the different strains and their effects to provide the best possible recommendation.

When Doctors Prescribe Medical Cannabis

Doctors can recommend medical cannabis for patients with any qualifying medical condition. Usually, it is used alongside traditional treatment options. Before recommending anything, doctors ensure that it is an appropriate solution for your specific needs. Here are a few medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatment.

1.Chronic Pain

Millions of people worldwide suffer from chronic pain resulting  from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. Marijuana is effective for treating chronic pain and improving your quality of life. Marijuana can reduce pain intensity and improve quality of life in people with chronic pain. However, it is used with other pain management strategies.

2.Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression impact your quality of life. You can use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms. It activates the endocannabinoid system which regulates mood and emotional responses. THC and CBD are known to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Marijuana can also have negative effects on mental health. It is particularly risky if you are predisposed to psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia. Talk to a healthcare provider before using marijuana for anxiety and depression.

3.Multiple sclerosis

This chronic autoimmune disease affects the central nervous system. It causes symptoms like muscle spasticity and pain. Marijuana reduces muscle spasticity and pain from multiple sclerosis. Sativex, a cannabis-based medication with THC and CBD. It  has been approved in some countries to treat MS-related spasticity. However, Sativex can cause side effects like dizziness and nausea. Use it under the supervision of a healthcare provider.


Evidence suggests that marijuana can treat epilepsy. It is particularly effective for patients whose seizures have not responded to traditional  treatment. The active compounds in marijuana have anticonvulsant properties. They can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. However, the use of marijuana for epilepsy treatment remains controversial and is not yet widely accepted as a mainstream therapy.

Further research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of marijuana in treating epilepsy and the appropriate dosages for different patients. Only use marijuana for treating epilepsy under your doctor’s supervision.


Marijuana has been gaining attention as a potential treatment for cancer symptoms. While it's not a cure for cancer, marijuana may alleviate symptoms like pain, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety associated with cancer treatments. Cannabinoids interact with your body and play a huge role in regulating various physiological processes. Some research suggests that cannabinoids may have anticancer properties and could potentially slow the growth and spread of tumors.

However, more studies are needed to understand the effects of marijuana on cancer fully. If you already take cancer medication, seek a professional opinion before using marijuana. It may interact negatively with the medication. Don't use marijuana as a replacement for conventional cancer treatments.


Marijuana has been proposed as a treatment option for glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyes and leads to vision loss. This is because cannabinoids can reduce intraocular pressure (IOP). They decrease the production of fluid in the eyes. However, while marijuana can lower IOP, its effects are short-lived and may not be sustainable.

Additionally, smoking marijuana is not recommended as it can cause further damage to the lungs and respiratory system. Instead, use alternative methods of ingestion, like edibles or topical creams. You can use marijuana as a supplementary treatment for glaucoma. However, don't use it to  substitute traditional medications. Consult a healthcare professional before using marijuana for glaucoma.

7.Alzheimer’s Disease

Some evidence suggests that marijuana has therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer's disease. The cannabinoids in marijuana can reduce inflammation in the brain. They can promote the growth of new brain cells, which slow the progression of the disease. Marijuana is effective in reducing symptoms like agitation, aggression, and insomnia. These symptoms are commonly experienced by people with Alzheimer's. The long-term effects of marijuana use on brain health are unclear.

Marijuana has potential therapeutic benefits for many medical conditions. However, you must use it responsibly and under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Marijuana can have negative effects on mental health and cognitive function. It can interact with other medications. If you want to use marijuana for medical purposes, talk to your doctor and determine whether it is safe and appropriate for you.





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