Increasingly more physicians are now in a position to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. Medical use of this herbal drug has been on the rise in recent years, partly due to easing of state legislation concerning its medical use as well as recent research affirming its medicinal benefits. The use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania (which is one of the 23 states and territories to have legalized its use so far) is becoming more common, with an ever-greater number of licensed physicians turning to the herbal drug as means of remedy for their patients.
Given the above, the prescription and use of medical marijuana appears to be quite straightforward. However, there is much to consider and analyze before a patient can be deemed suitable for a therapy using the drug. From a legal and admin perspective, the most important thing for a patient is his/her medical marijuana licensing, or their medical marijuana ID as it is known. In Pennsylvania, medical networks such as Veriheal are certified to assess patients and issue them with medical marijuana IDs. No patient is allowed the use of medical marijuana without an ID issued by a licensed entity.
From a medical doctor’s point of view, the screening and assessment of a patient is crucial in order to make the decision for medical marijuana use. Patient pre-screening is a hefty and elaborate procedure, though for the purpose of this article it can be summarized in a few basic steps.
History and Background
The medical practitioner must look into the patient’s background and assess him/her accurately. This means looking into their medical history, any history of substance abuse, and any psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and cardiovascular disease the patient may be suffering from. A thorough physical examination is obviously part of the assessment.
Informing the Patient and Obtaining Their Consent
Once a physician has deemed a patient suitable for medical marijuana therapy, he/she needs to inform the patient of his/her options so he/she can decide whether or not they wish to proceed. An in-depth discussion must be conducted before a patient’s informed consent is obtained. The patient must be aware of all the risks and benefits of the therapy in question. The doctor must also explain to the patient how the potential use of medical marijuana is known (and documented) to have benefited others with the same or similar condition.
Regular Monitoring and Therapy Control
As with any other controlled substance, strict control and regular monitoring of patient and their therapy is vital. Doctors normally conduct regular monitoring on a fixed schedule basis. During these control sessions, doctors take note of symptoms, assess patient status and record a patient’s own account of their medical marijuana therapy to determine whether changes in dosage or frequency of use are needed, and if the therapy is working at all. Physical exams, along with urine and blood sample testing might also be part of regular monitoring.
Continuation or Discontinuation of Usage
Based on the analysis and findings in the regular monitoring sessions, the medical practitioner will decide to either continue or discontinue the medical marijuana therapy. This decision is also heavily based on direct observations by the doctor. The goals of the treatment determine if the therapy has been successful or not when cross-referenced against doctor observations and clinical results.
In some cases, doctors might also decide to continue or discontinue medical marijuana therapy in favor of counselling or other types of treatment. The patient might also be referred to another medical specialist if the herbal drug therapy is not working or has adverse effects on them.