Medical Marijuana: Could It Be Right for Me?
Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2012 and it’s been playing a crucial role in relieving patients’ numerous conditions inadequately controlled with more traditional approaches. However, Dr. David Boguslavsky, a Bridgewater family physician who is registered with the state to perform medical marijuana evaluations, states, “It’s important to not get ahead of the science with regards to medical marijuana. Although there is mounting evidence that medical marijuana can be an effective modality to treat a number of conditions, it is unlikely to be a ‘panacea cure-all’ that many wish it to be.”
The doctor emphasized that medical marijuana should be thought of simply as another treatment option for clinicians and patients. “Medical marijuana, like many other tools in a clinician’s toolbox has the potential to help patients feel better and lead more active, productive lives,” he continued. It has been shown to help those with chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, PTSD, anxiety and migraines. In the realm of pain control this is a far safer alternative to opioids that always carry a risk of destructive addiction.”
New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program has a total of 51,000 patients, 2,000 caregivers and 1,000 doctors are now participating in the program. The top five medical conditions among patients who have qualified for the program are chronic pain due to musculoskeletal disorders, anxiety, intractable skeletal spasticity, PTSD and severe or chronic pain due to cancer or HIV.
Boguslavsky states that it is, “critical to see the right provider when considering this form of therapy. An ideal decision regarding medical marijuana’s appropriateness is reached by a collaboration with a knowledgeable clinician who can make recommendation adjustments based on the patients’ complex medical history.”
Unfortunately, obtaining medical marijuana is not easy in New Jersey. The process starts with a visit to a physician who is registered with the state Department of Health to perform marijuana evaluations. Dr. Boguslavsky and his team see prospective patients for an hour-long intake visit where a detailed medical history is taken, medical records are reviewed, a physical exam is performed and the determination is made whether the patient qualifies for participation in the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. Urine drug screens are obtained to weed out at-risk patients with active cocaine and heroin use.
Patients bring their relevant medical records, their driver’s license and a proof of residency because the state is strict in establishing the identity of residents admitted into the program.
At the second visit, about a week later, the clinician reviews the test results with the patient and a monthly dose of medical marijuana is determined.
Once approved by the doctor, the patient registers with the state and receives their own Medical Marijuana card that allows them to go to a dispensary where they’ll get additional education and can purchase the marijuana. The patients then follow up regularly with the doctor to monitor their progress and to adjust dosing if necessary.
Boguslavsky said he believes that skepticism about the effectiveness of medical marijuana will fade as more and more medical practitioners become aware of its benefits. So far, most of his patients have been “extremely positive” about the impact of the medical marijuana on their health.
For many of Boguslavsky’s patients, medical marijuana has been a godsend. One patient explained, “I’ve tried various medications for pain and chronic insomnia, all of which were mostly unsuccessful because of nasty side and after-effects, along with potential issues of dependence. Ultimately, I just suffered endlessly without relief.” That frustration led her to explore the benefits of marijuana. She continues, “I finally decided to look into cannabis, as recommended by so many others who have experienced success. This turned out to be a long-awaited solution. Relief has been provided with no side effects! I can function again.”
Boguslavsky believes that as the use of medical marijuana becomes more acceptable, the state will need to authorize more dispensaries, which are strictly regulated by the state. That may also lead to an eventual reduction in prices as supply and competition increase. Recent expansion of the Medical Marijuana program should take the number of dispensaries from seven to twelve.
For those looking to free themselves from migraines, chronic pain or anxiety, medical marijuana may be an unexplored safe and effective treatment option. To see if the condition qualifies for participation in the Medical Marijuana program, the first step begins with a call to Dr. Boguslavsky.
Location: PremierMD, 757 Route 206, Bridgewater and 500 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken. For more information, call 908-450-7002 or visit NJMedicalMarijuana.us.