Qualify for Cannabis or Not Can be as Simple as What You Say to the Doc - RxLeaf
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Qualify for Cannabis or Not Can be as Simple as What You Say to the Doc

Emily Robertson
cannabis, seizure tests, neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, qualifying conditions, medical cannabis, prescription, HIV, AIDS, cancer

Qualifying conditions to access cannabis change from state to state, but these are the ones that qualify in most. And these are the things you need to say.

Not every patient will qualify to be granted access to legal cannabis simply because they have asked for it. They will first have to navigate through the murky world of “qualifying conditions.” These qualifiers vary based on country, and then within those countries, vary again by provincial and state regulations.

Sometimes, the qualifiers are rather sticky. Take Florida, for example, this state makes you medically prove that you have exhausted all other “traditional” forms of medicine before turning to cannabis (angry face).  Still, there are conditions that are more common to the “qualifying conditions” list as we survey legal regions around the world. These are the most frequently approved:

Cancer

Child laying in bed with cancer

Cancer patients qualify for cannabis in order to treat pain, as well as nausea from chemo treatments. It is also acceptable to ask for cannabis to stimulate appetite and assist with sleep.  While cannabis is not an officially recognized treatment for cancer at this time, it is agreed upon within the scientific community, that cannabis can prevent the spread (CBD) of certain types of cancer and directly kill cancer cells (THC). Most medical professionals will not give a prescription for treating cancer directly, but they will if you are experiencing cancer-related pain or decreased appetite.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Soldier sitting against black backdrop PTSD

The increase in veterans supporting access to cannabis has been ignited by its enormous success in treating  PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can result from any number of traumas, and the most debilitating symptoms include panic attacks and hyper-vigilance. These can lead to secondary symptoms of insomnia, nightmares, and hallucinations.

Cannabis has been shown to reduce these symptoms of PTSD and make trauma more easily managed be reducing anxiety. It can help the sufferer sleep more soundly, away from the torment of nightmares or night terrors. PTSD can be difficult to diagnose, but anxiety and depression always qualify.

Epilepsy

Young woman undergoing seizure test

Currently, the pharmaceuticals on the market fall short in controlling the seizures for a wide swath of epileptic patients. These patients are said to have “refractory seizures” – meaning they have tried everything and nothing works. Studies have shown that cannabis can help to dramatically reduce the frequency of seizures. The cannabinoid, CBD, has demonstrated incredible anti-epileptic ability.

HIV/AIDS

HIV+ blood test

HIV/AIDS is another condition that lacks a comprehensive, effective treatment. But for years, cannabis has been used to treat the symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, like nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and pain.

Just as importantly, it helps reduce the anxiety and depression that can come along with a terminal disease such as HIV/AIDS. In addition, the unjust stigma that surrounds the condition perpetuates isolation and loneliness, as well as a hopeless feeling about health, creating significant mental health issues.

Neurodegenerative Disease

Normal versus HD brain

Neurodegenerative diseases affect a person’s entire being. From the brain to the body, sense of self and orientation, diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Parkinson’s can cause traumatic situations for sufferers and their loved ones.

Recently, however, research is beginning to show how cannabis may be able to help treat these conditions. Though more studies need to be conducted, there’s no debate that cannabis can help with mobility, reducing the spasticity and rigidity of muscles, and by improving sleep and cognitive functioning. For that reason, these diseases often quality. Insomnia is one of the key words to use at your appointment.

Glaucoma

Eye with Glaucoma Close up

While glaucoma is a qualifying condition for access to cannabis, there is some disagreement in the medical community as to its appropriateness. All stages of glaucoma qualify, but this may not be appropriate. Cannabis is very effective at bringing down ocular pressure, which is why it has been prescribed in the past. Recent research, however, demonstrates that it can be difficult to keep a consistent level of cannabinoids in the body, causing pressure to go up and down. THIS actually increases the risk for loss of eye sight and is why updated treatment protocols called for cannabis to only be prescribed for late stage glaucoma. 

Multiple Sclerosis

man in wheelchair beside woman walking in the park

Multiple Sclerosis is a painful, uncomfortable disease that, like neurodegenerative conditions affect multiple systems in the body. But, fortunately, cannabis seems to be able to treat the most debilitating symptoms: muscle spasms, insomnia, nerve pain, inflammation, abdominal pain and discomfort, and also the depression and anxiety that can accompany diagnosis. Severe depression and/or anxiety are important to mention when you meet with your doctor.

So, what is your prescription for and where do you live?

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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