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Patient Responsibilities in Medical Cannabis Use

  • Responsibilities for medical marijuana patients aren’t entirely different than they would be on a conventional treatment path.
  • However, medical cannabis patients have a few additional obligations, like keeping their supply secure and treating cannabis industry pros with respect.
  • When in doubt, lead with respect and curiosity: the medical cannabis community is a welcoming place.

If you’re considering trying medical marijuana for anxiety or another health condition, you might be wondering how your treatment journey will differ from a traditional healing path.

One element to consider is patient responsibility: your role in your treatment plan and in the healthcare system at large. While many common patient responsibilities will still apply, you’ll have a few additional responsibilities on your plant-based healing journey.

In this guide, we’re breaking these down in detail to help you get a feel for your role in your cannabis treatment. We’ll also offer a few helpful tips for newcomers to the medical marijuana space.

Common Patient Responsibilities in Healthcare

Let’s start by reviewing some of the most common patient responsibilities in healthcare at large.

Patients are responsible for:

  • Providing a complete and correct medical history: If your healthcare provider doesn’t have a full picture of your current treatment courses, your conditions, and your past healthcare statuses, they can’t give you the treatment you need to recover. This is true in any healthcare context, and the same can be said in medical cannabis care. Be honest with your providers about your needs and concerns.
  • Reporting changes to caregivers: Has your medication list changed recently? Have you discovered a new allergy? Did you have a hospital stay since your last checkup? Make sure to tell all of your providers about any significant changes to your record.
  • Asking questions when needed: If you don’t understand any part of your treatment plan, you have a responsibility to ask your provider for clarification. This will help you and your provider implement your care plan with fidelity.
  • Following their treatment plan to the letter: While you’re under no obligation to continue any treatment course you’d like to stop, you need to communicate your intentions with your provider to avoid any ill effects. Following your treatment plan closely is the first step to creating consistent results.
  • Keeping scheduled appointments: If you need to cancel your appointment, give your providers as much notice as possible.
  • Treating others with respect: While you might start the process of getting medical marijuana for nerve pain via telehealth, you still have a responsibility to show anyone you interact with basic respect and courtesy—your provider, administrative staff, and fellow patients.
  • Following facility rules: If you visit an in-person provider to start your medical marijuana treatment (or visit an in-person dispensary or pharmacy), you’ll need to adhere to their conduct rules during your visit. These might include refraining from smoking, limiting visitors, and speaking at a respectful volume in shared spaces.
  • Accepting the consequences of refusing treatment: If you refuse a treatment offered by any provider, you’ll be held responsible for doing so. When you revoke consent, your providers will respect your decision, but you’ll have to contend with the results of the refusal, positive or negative.
  • Paying for their care: Whether you use insurance or pay out of pocket for medical care (and, as of 2024, you’ll almost always do the latter for medical cannabis care), you’re responsible for footing the bill for your treatment plan.
  • Respecting others’ property and rights: During any in-person treatment visits, you’ll need to respect any fellow patients and providers you encounter. They’ll likely extend the same respect to you.
  • Controlling themselves and their guests during their appointments: During any visits (virtual or in-person), you’ll need to control your volume and behavior to follow your providers’ rules. You’ll also be responsible for controlling any guests or visitors you bring to your appointments.

Extra Responsibilities for Medical Marijuana Patients

While the responsibilities listed above are par for the course in any medical environment, medical cannabis patients have a few additional considerations to make throughout their treatment journey.

Maintaining Safe Control of Your Prescriptions

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One of your most important roles as a patient is to maintain safety and control of your cannabis supply.

Cannabis is a highly controlled and regulated substance—and for good reason. Since some products can have intoxicating effects, all marijuana products should be treated with respect and kept safe from vulnerable populations, like:

  • Children and teens who aren’t prescribed medical cannabis
  • People with special needs or cognitive challenges
  • Elderly people who didn’t consent to medical marijuana treatment

In short, you can keep others safe by keeping your supply safe. Read more in this TeleLeaf guide.

Using Intoxicants Safely and Intentionally

If you choose to use intoxicating marijuana products (i.e., formulas including THC), you have a responsibility to use them safely and responsibly.

This can look like:

  • Starting low and slow: To protect yourself and anyone else in your household, start with the lowest possible dose. While you can’t lethally overdose marijuana, you can cause discomfort by overconsuming it.
  • Driving only when you’re not intoxicated: While marijuana intoxication is very distinct from alcohol intoxication, driving under the influence of any psychoactive substance is irresponsible. Doing so can put both you and others in jeopardy.
  • Dosing at appropriate times: Depending on your treatment plan and chosen products, it may not make sense to dose in certain circumstances—before work, for instance.

Treating Budtenders with Professional Respect

woman respecting shop ownersIf your healthcare provider recommends medical cannabis for insomnia, you won’t be able to get these products from your provider’s office or a traditional pharmacy. Instead, you’ll need to visit a marijuana pharmacy or dispensary.

During your visit, you’ll interact with budtenders—the professionals working behind the counter. While budtenders are typically approachable and the dispensary environment is casual, budtenders should be treated with respect. They provide a professional service, have expert knowledge of cannabis products, and offer highly useful tips for patients.

Check out our guide for first-time dispensary visits to learn more.

Traveling with Cannabis Responsibly

If you plan to travel during your medical marijuana treatment, you’ll have additional responsibilities.

Namely, you’ll need to research and plan for:

  • Differences in state and international laws: If you’re traveling across state or national borders, read relevant laws closely. Law enforcement officials still take cannabis very seriously, and you should follow the guidelines in the letter.
  • Safe storage: If it is legal to travel to your destination with medical cannabis, make sure that your supply is stored safely throughout your journey.

Ensuring Confidentiality in the Patient Community

While you’re responsible for respecting the confidentiality of other patients in any medical context, this is especially important in the medical marijuana community. Why?

  • Stigma: Even though it’s been legalized or decriminalized in many states, marijuana is still highly stigmatized in mainstream culture. Even if you openly discuss your success with medical cannabis, other patients may be wary of potential social backlash.
  • Job security: Even in states with legalization or decriminalization, many employers (especially government jobs) still have strict regulations surrounding marijuana use. If a fellow patient has decided to take a risk despite their employer’s regulations, it would be irresponsible to potentially reveal their treatment plan to their employer.

Tips for Newcomers to Medical Marijuana

If you’re not sure how to approach medical cannabis as a newcomer—or you’re intimidated by the additional responsibilities listed above—don’t worry. The cannabis community is a welcoming place full of fellow patients happy to help newcomers find their way.

That said, two rules should guide your way when you’re not sure what to say or do during your treatment:

  • Consult the pros: Both your medical cannabis healthcare provider and your budtender can be trusted with your nitty-gritty questions about treatment and products. If you have a concern about your course, ask them; these pros are highly qualified to assist.
  • Lead with respect and discretion: Basic courtesy and a discerning approach can make or break your journey with medical cannabis. If you’re not sure what to do or say in a situation, think about the most respectful, discreet way to proceed before you act.

Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card with TeleLeaf

If you’re ready to try medical cannabis, there are resources available to you, like TeleLeaf’s network of cannabis-informed providers. As the best online medical marijuana card service on the market today, we’re proud to connect patients with the professional wisdom and formal recommendations they need to navigate this plant-based healing approach.

Start your journey with medical cannabis by making an appointment with a TeleLeaf provider now.


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