It is time to separate the stigma of recreational use of marijuana from the benefit of medical use of cannabis. Many conventional medications (such as opiate pain medications) are harmful, intoxicating, and carry a risk of dependence. There is so much more to the cannabis plant than the intoxicating properties of THC.

Naturopathic physicians in Washington State can authorize their patients to use cannabis to treat certain conditions which are debilitating or terminal. This includes cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. It also includes chronic severe pain, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and hepatitis C if they are unrelieved by standard medical treatments. Diseases which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments, may also benefit from the medical use of cannabis.

The medical community is becoming increasingly convinced that not only is it good medicine, but NDs are the most qualified to understand it as medicine, in that botanicals are much more complex than pharmaceuticals. Botanicals contain hundreds to thousands of chemicals, where pharmaceuticals contain just one. We use the term medical cannabis rather than medical marijuana because that is the scientific name. We refer to all our medicines by scientific names to avoid the confusion that can arise with many common herb names.

Our physicians do not write authorizations for conditions that do not clearly fall under the law. They do not believe in making many brief appointments with patients simply to fit many in one day. They only authorize qualifying patients of mine to use medical cannabis after a complete understanding of their medical record and condition. This means that the patient understands and has tried other options. In accordance with the current law, they do not advise patients to buy the medicine, only authorize them to use it.