Person discussing medical marijuana with a doctor

Should I Discuss My Cannabis Use With My Doctor?

Some people are considering trying cannabis now that its use has been decriminalized in New York and a number of other states. Even though marijuana is legal in many places today, Yasmin Hurd, PhD, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, warns that it should be treated like any other substance.

Cannabinoid (CBD), a chemical produced from the hemp plant that is now visible in many retail establishments, is being studied extensively, and Dr. is at the forefront of this study. This Q&A covers everything you need to know before visiting a cannabis dispensary, including why it’s important to be upfront about your marijuana usage with your primary care physician.

How would you recommend that a first-time pot user approach the experience now that recreational usage is acceptable?

You should be quite cautious about where you get your cannabis. We know that there are dishonest people in the world since we’ve observed that some goods labeled as cannabis include substances that aren’t. Recently, fentanyl, a powerful and extremely addictive opioid, has been found in cannabis. That’s why it’s so important to be careful about where you get your weed. For the time being, obtaining medical marijuana in New York and purchasing it through a state-run dispensary is the most secure option.

If I’m taking marijuana, should I let my doctor know? Why?

Please inform your doctor if you are consuming cannabis in any form. Liver enzymes, like those responsible for breaking down other drugs, break cannabis down into usable active compounds. Cannabinoids in cannabis may inhibit or enhance the activity of liver enzymes that are also involved in the metabolism of other prescription medications. Therefore, it is crucial that your doctor be aware in order to prevent a possibly fatal medication combination.

Due to the recent change in the law, patients may feel safe telling their doctors that they use cannabis. The more open you are with your doctor, the better treatment you will get.

Is it true that marijuana doesn’t cause addiction?

It is a common misconception that using cannabis never leads to dependency. About 30% of heavy cannabis users have been diagnosed with a condition related to their marijuana use. Even while cannabis is not as addictive as substances like cocaine and opioids, the proportion is comparable.

More individuals are using cannabis, increasing the likelihood of addiction and therefore the incidence of diagnoses of cannabis use disorder. In many cases, the increased dependency is attributable to cannabis’s increased potency in recent decades.

What, exactly, has changed in modern marijuana?

Currently available recreational cannabis has very high levels of THC (short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the major psychoactive element in cannabis. It has increased from from 4% THC to over 24% in certain formulations. Even if you buy anything from a dispensary, there’s a chance it has seventy percent THC. When compared to even just ten or twenty years ago, this number is staggering.

Higher THC levels increase the risk of adverse psychological effects and habituation. Looking for cannabis with a certificate of analysis is a good way to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, contaminant-free product. This document will detail the product’s THC and other constituent levels and will show you whether or not it has been tested for any banned substances.

Is THC derived from hemp less harmful than THC derived from cannabis?

Simply put, no. Purified THC from either hemp or cannabis is equivalent for human consumption. While THC may be extracted from hemp, only a small percentage of the plant is psychoactive (less than.3%), hence the drug is typically derived from cannabis.

While marijuana may be allowed for recreational and medical use in New York, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic at the federal level due to its lack of recognised medical value and significant abuse potential.

However, CBD, which comes from hemp, does not violate any federal laws. Some people attempt to get around the federal prohibition on cannabis by marketing a delta-8-THC product made from hemp. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of cannabis, and excessive exposure may have negative effects on mental health. Delta-8-THC is less well-studied than its more well-known cousin, delta-9-THC, but we do know that it can produce euphoria, although on a more subdued scale.

Even though it is not true, several businesses are pushing delta-8-THC as the safer and legal choice. As an example, because to the low levels of THC naturally present in the hemp plant, some producers aim to bypass the plant’s natural derivation process in favor of using chemicals to artificially raise the levels of delta-8-THC. In addition, some shady businesses are lying on their product’s certificate of analysis, claiming instead that it includes delta-8-THC along with dangerous substances like lead and heavy metals.

Do high-frequency pot users face any extra risks?

The use of very strong cannabis products is associated with a number of negative outcomes for users’ mental health, including the development of a dependency on the drug. Problems with concentration, recall, and understanding are among examples. Consequences such as these are a natural result of cannabis usage, and even occasional use may have a negative impact on motor skills. There is evidence that cannabis usage increases the risk of psychosis, particularly among specific younger populations.

In addition, the risk of pulmonary complications is increased for everyone who smokes while under the influence of any medicine.

What, if any, medical ailments have been shown to be helped by marijuana?

Certain synthetic THC products have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an anti-nausea treatment option for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. CBD has also been licensed by the FDA for use in the treatment of two very uncommon types of pediatric epilepsy.

Other than those two uses, neither cannabis nor CBD have received any official approval from the government. However, there are several ongoing clinical studies. And thus, in a few years, we will see their results.

In what ways will doctors and hospitals benefit from marijuana legalization?

The medical community faces a double-edged sword with marijuana legalization. We care about people’s well-being, so it’s not ideal when they take a medicine they probably don’t need and which has the potential to harm their mental health. However, given that it is less stigmatizing for patients to be open about their cannabis usage with their physicians, patients should expect better results as a result of their doctors’ improved ability to provide tailored treatment.

Since cannabis is now legal in several places, myself and my colleagues may more easily study its possible advantages and drawbacks in treating specific illnesses. As an added bonus, this lets us better direct doctors and their patients on the proper ways to utilize cannabis.

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