Physicians Have a Cannabis Dilemma, and It really is Harming Individuals


‘The Haymaker’ is Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott’s opinion column on cannabis politics and culture.

It’s time to speak about the reality that American medical doctors have a cannabis difficulty. And it is harming their individuals. I know since I’m one particular of them.

The most up-to-date proof came yesterday from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, which published a study about the quantity of sedation necessary for individuals who are frequent cannabis shoppers.

In that study, researchers looked at 250 individuals who underwent endoscopy procedures at a hospital in Grand Junction, CO. I’m assuming it was mainly guys in their 50s obtaining colonoscopies, a routine cancer screening. The scientists located that frequent cannabis shoppers necessary extra sedation than individuals who did not consume.

Propofol: Twice the Dose

In the Grand Junction study, frequent cannabis shoppers necessary extra than twice as substantially propofol as non- cannabis shoppers. (Chart from Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, click on image for hyperlink.)

Dosing and Dishonesty

What does that imply? It is very simple. In a colonoscopy, a healthcare group puts the patient to sleep, then runs a tiny camera and some sort of polyp-removal device via the rear door to verify out the situation of the digestive tract. As a patient, it is a wonder of modern day medicine. You go to sleep, and when you wake up the whole process is completed.

Health-related marijuana is legal in 34 states. And but we nevertheless can not speak about it honestly with our medical doctors in the privacy of an exam space.

Anesthesiologists typically use a mix of 3 drugs on colonoscopy individuals: fentanyl, midazolam, and propofol. In the Grand Junction study, cannabis shoppers necessary just a touch extra fentanyl and midazolam—14% and 20% extra, respectively. But when it came to the sleep-generating anesthetic propofol, cannabis shoppers necessary a 220% dose—more than twice as substantially as non- cannabis shoppers.

Here’s what you want to know about propofol: It is the sleep drug that killed Michael Jackson.

Here’s what you want to know about colonoscopy individuals: We’re not truthful with our medical doctors about our cannabis use.

That is a difficulty. And it is not restricted to colonoscopy individuals.

Why Can not We Speak About This?

Health-related marijuana is now legal in 34 states. Adult-use cannabis is legal in 10 states, Washington, DC, and Guam. And but quite a few of us nevertheless cannot speak about it honestly with our medical doctors in the privacy of an examining space.

Even cancer individuals have a challenging time carrying out it. A 2017 study by researchers at a cancer center in Washington state located that 74% of cancer individuals wanted information and facts on healthcare marijuana from their medical doctors. Only 15% of these individuals received it.

We see these patients’ aggravation each and every day right here at Leafly. They create to us searching for tips when their medical doctors cannot or will not go over healthcare cannabis—or shame the patient for even broaching the topic. It is so frequent that when we run an post explaining how to acquire a healthcare marijuana card, we generally involve a caveat about basic practitioners: Your household medical professional might refuse to create a recommendation, or even speak about it. Why? For the reason that they’re ignorant about cannabis and the topic tends to make them uncomfortable. Some might feel they run a legal threat just by speaking about it. (They do not.)

Me. The Doc. The Speak.

I also reside with that reality. I’m a resident of Washington state, exactly where cannabis has been legal for all adults for extra than six years. My household medical professional is amazing. But I nevertheless cannot speak openly about cannabis with him. And I’m an editor at Leafly who actually wrote a book about cannabis.

I went in for a checkup final month. I wrote down a list of 3 issues to go over:

  • Knee discomfort obtaining worse
  • Weird skin issue: What is it?
  • Cannabis use/speak/Ambien

The knee issue was a tendon challenge, no surgery necessary. The skin issue was practically nothing. We didn’t get to #three on the list. We under no circumstances do.

What I’d Like to Say

If we had, I’ve have told the medical professional that given that obtaining the proper CBD:THC mix in a vape cartridge, I sip on it after or twice a week ahead of bed. When I do, it aids me fall asleep and no longer wake up at three a.m. That is the explanation I haven’t renewed my Ambien prescription in 3 years. I’ll also burn a joint after in a though on a Friday evening just after a lengthy week.

I want to inform my medical professional: ‘This is not a me difficulty, this is a you difficulty. I’m reluctant since you are reluctant.’

If I could speak with my medical professional, I’d also say: This is not a me difficulty, this is a you difficulty. I’m reluctant to speak since you are reluctant to speak.

I also hesitate since that time my medical professional was out of town and I saw the clinic’s substitute doc, he asked me what I did for a living. I was truthful and told him. “So you create about ‘healthcare marijuana’?” he stated, in a tone that collapsed beneath the weight of disdain it carried. I hesitate since the nurse who checks me in asks me about cannabis “or any other drug use,” as if I’m mixing in a small meth and coke for enjoyable. Inside the walls of that clinic, cannabis use is nevertheless treated as shameful.

I also hesitate since if the medical professional writes one thing in my chart about cannabis, I do not know if I’ll be dealing with the repercussions for the rest of my life. Final month Leafly published an post about cannabis and organ donation. “Organ donors and recipients have traditionally not been chosen if they use cannabis,” wrote Jacqueline Havelka. That is proper: recipients. So if your healthcare record says you are a cannabis customer, and all of a sudden you want a liver transplant, guess what? You are fucked. All since you have been truthful with your medical professional.

It Begins With Your Medical professional

Altering this damaging dynamic needs a sea transform in the attitude of the whole healthcare profession with regards to cannabis. That transform has to occur in healthcare college, in nursing college, in the way cannabis is discussed each and every day in a clinical setting. But it begins with each and every person medical professional. It begins with an establishment of trust about the challenge. Place down the pad and inform me, your patient, “Let’s speak off the record about cannabis.”

Establish trust. Place down the pad and inform me, your patient, ‘Let’s speak off the record about cannabis.’

The study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association was performed in Grand Junction, Colorado, throughout 2016 and 2017. The researchers chose Grand Junction for a explanation. “Since the 2012 legalization of cannabis in Colorado, extra individuals use and disclose their use of cannabis,” they wrote. “With new openness about cannabis use, a query particularly addressing this challenge was added to our hospital’s nursing preprocedure queries in January 2015.”

That assumption is alarming. For the reason that the “new openness” basically is not accurate when it comes to a healthcare atmosphere. And it might in the end provide inaccurate information and facts that final results in an incorrect dose of propofol.

I know since I’ve been that patient. Final month I went in for a routine colonoscopy at an endoscopy center in Washington state. They gave me the similar mix of drugs outlined in the Grand Junction study. Every thing went fine. But when a nurse went via the preprocedure checklist with me, she asked: “Any cannabis use?”

And I stated: “Nope.”


Latest posts