In order to legally obtain medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for a debilitating medical condition, patients need to get authorization from a marijuana doctor. However, it might be tricky to know exactly who to turn to in order to discuss the possibility of medical cannabis as a treatment option and how to apply, especially with continuously changing medical marijuana laws in North America. So you might be asking, who is considered a marijuana doctor?
In Canada, applying for a medical marijuana card from Health Canada used to be the only way to legally obtain a cannabis prescription to treat the debilitating symptoms of eligible conditions. However, new laws have now placed the onus of prescription applications directly on doctors. Health Canada is no longer involved in prescribing the treatment. New regulations have also authorized nurse practitioners in Canada to legally prescribe medical marijuana, decide on eligibility, and decide on dosages and length of treatment.
That being said, many physicians are uncomfortable with prescribing this alternative treatment due to lack of valid research, unfamiliarity, lack of experience in prescribing it, and lack of understanding of dosages and side effects. Although all Canadian physicians in good standing with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada who have obtained a class 1 narcotics license can now prescribe medical marijuana, many are still refusing to do so.
However, placing the authorization of prescribing cannabis in the hands of doctors means that you won't have to deal with bureaucratic red tape and government application processes. This will likely lead to a higher rate of authorization and approval in the near future. It might take some time, but with some persistence and research, you'll be able to find a marijuana-friendly doctor to evaluate you if your family physician is opposed to or hesitant about prescribe this alternative treatment.
United States Physicians
In the United States, prescriptions are actually termed "recommendations" or "referrals" due to legal issues, and an ID card is needed in all states that have legalized it other than Washington. Depending on where you live, only physicians who are registered with a medical marijuana program can legally certify patients to receive the drug and in most cases, a long-standing doctor-patient relationship must already exist. An approved marijuana doctor in the United States will also have to be practicing in the state in which he is licensed, possess an active controlled dangerous substances registration and be in good standing in his respected state's Board of Medical Examiners.
Other Healthcare Professionals
To date, other healthcare professionals, such as chiropractors, psychologists, and massage therapists cannot sign the medical marijuana forms needed to certify you as a medical marijuana patient and provide you with a prescription.
Legally Authorized, but still Hesitant
The legislation crafted for medical marijuana in both Canada and the United States is poorly written and understood. The debate surrounding the use of cannabis for medical purposes is still strong in both countries, which means that many physicians are still refusing to prescribe medical cannabis even though they are legally authorized to do so. However, there are some marijuana-friendly doctors out there-you just have to search until you find a marijuana doctor that will give you the alternative treatment you are looking for.