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Cannabis and Surgery

Do I Divulge My Medical Cannabis Usage Before Surgery?

In a perfect world, all doctors would be supportive of medical cannabis usage for their patients. If only. Unfortunately, here in Illinois, many more doctors are opposed to it than are in favor. One of the questions that comes up over and over again is:

Do I Tell My Medical Team That I Use Medical Cannabis Before My Surgery?

A member of the Illinois medical cannabis community posed that question and I thought it would be interesting to share the responses he received.

Many respondents simply said NO with no explanation. Several thought it was “None of their business.” Some felt that they would be stigmatized by their doctors as “pot heads.” Some don’t want that information to appear in their medical records for fear of being dropped by a doctor who is misinformed and vehemently opposed to it.┬áThis is a clear indication that we all have much work to do to educate our doctors. It should be incumbent upon all of us to make that a goal!

Some patients who told their doctors were pleasantly surprised by their reactions. They were unfazed by their disclosure. They were more concerned about cocaine or nicotine usage. A few were adamant about wanting to tell their healthcare providers and physicians that they used medical cannabis to help overcome the stoner stigma. One respondent pointed out that if you have to hide your medical cannabis usage from your doctor, you should REALLY find a new doctor. I find myself in that camp.

There were several people who were misinformed about medical cannabis usage and anaesthesia. They thought that they should tell their team because the anaesthesiologist would need to adjust the dosage of medication they gave them. Some thought that failure to do so could result in a serious drug interaction or a life or death situation. An anaesthesiologist told her patient that it was important she knew because it might be hard to knock her out, otherwise.

My head was spinning, so I decided it was time to seek out the advice of a medical cannabis doctor for whom I have a lot of respect. It was time to clear up the controversy. His answer was short and to the point.

There are no medical cannabis-anaesthetic reactions. However, it is important to be honest with your doctors. I would advise telling the anaesthesiologist of your usage.

This certainly supports the notion that you should only work with doctors who support your medical cannabis usage. No one should feel threatened by their doctor. That is why we need to keep pushing to educate doctors in Illinois!!!

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