Medical marijuana internal/gastro practitioner in DC?
October 15, 2015 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I suffer from gastroparesis and have done so for some time. The one med that was helpful was taken off the market years ago. One thing I've found that helps is marijuana. I can only try it very occasionally for a variety of reasons (no network, etc.). Washington, D.C., allows medical marijuana to be prescribed for a variety of conditions. The problem is: My gastroenterologist will not consider prescribing it for me.

She offered me a rationalization about it, citing research I'd never heard about (and I'd done my due diligence) into some rare disease that could result from marijuana use. In short, she doesn't want to and won't prescribe it. This is on top of the fact that she has admitted she has no other therapy for gastroparesis that she can offer me.

My request is for a referral to a D.C. internal medicine or gastro practitioner who will be willing to allow me to try MMJ beyond the scattershot approach I've had to take in the past. An email address for direct contact if names can't be posted here: dcmmjref at gmail dot com.

I'd appreciate any help you all might offer. This may not be the answer, but, based on a few positive experiences, I'm hoping it will help.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
marijuana is legal for personal use in DC, yeah? is there a particular reason why you need a prescription? it's cool if so, but it's not very hard to just pick up a bit of weed. these cars are all over my neighborhood. not sure where you are, but it's an option?
posted by kerning at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

If it's any help, according this article from January, one way to find a doctor willing to prescribe it to you is through a fixer: "Most people find a marijuana-prescribing doctor through a middleman, according to people in the business. You can ask at a dispensary, where they’re usually familiar with the doctors. You can also connect with a sort of medical-marijuana fixer, who will set you up with a doctor’s appointment for a fee.

I reached out to one such fixer, Shawnta Hopkins at MMJ Medical Marijuana Advocates Group. Judging by the organization’s Facebook page, the mission takes greater inspiration from Harold and Kumar than Hippocrates, but still serves a vital role. Without her group, people would have a hard time finding a doctor registered in the pot program."
posted by purple_bird at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

My recommending physician is not my routine doctor. She's not one of the specialists I see, either. She's a physician I looked up on Google based on how close her office is to my house, with search terms being something like "medical marijuana doctor." She charges a flat fee for the initial evaluation, and then (per state law) a lower flat annual fee to revisit and reissue the recommendation. This is in California but, as purple_bird says, you can call your nearest (or preferred, or most reputable) dispensary and ask them to advise you on recommending physicians in your area.

Good luck, and much relief!

Side note: as an epidemiologist with Crohn's disease, I can say, firmly, your gastroenterologist is being an asshole. A bit of an ignorant one, too, whom you could and should tell that you will seek this treatment yourself. I had a doctor in the past insist vehemently that marijuana wouldn't help me at all, even though I had gotten much more up to speed than him on current research in the area and was seeing him to deal with the insane side effects of the prednisone and other meds he had been prescribing. I made a point to come to him for several routine visits to remind him that I was finding great relief with an approach he refused to consider, and eventually he (sort of) relented his screed. By that point I didn't need his help with the situation anymore, but it was good to know that other, more nervous patients of his hopefully didn't have to deal with that kind of ridiculousness.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:07 PM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

You don't really get a prescription for medical marijuana. You get a 'recommendation,' and if it's anything like in Colorado, you're not going to get that from your primary physician. You get the recommendation from specific doctors that specialize in that who are often have attached to dispensaries. They make the recommendation and get you a medical marijuana card, which you then can use to buy from the dispensary. You may need to bring some medical information with you establishing your condition to show to them.

If you look up some local dispensaries, most seem to have pages like this one that walk you through the process.

If you do have recreational marijuana now too, you could skip the process or do that while you're waiting.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:15 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and you need to focus on qualifying conditions under your law. It looks like you're covered in the "other" section.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:17 PM on October 15, 2015

Just for the record, your gastroenterologist's concerns are based on real risk. I see marijuana users with cyclic vomiting syndrome, an entity with symptoms that are absolutely miserable and quite similar to those of gastroparesis, on nearly a daily basis. In that context it's also called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. I'm pretty sure that was what she was talking about. The baffling part to me about cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is that people come in retching and vomiting their guts out so loudly you can hear them from rooms away, and yet they refuse to quit smoking pot. There's plenty of research on it.

That said, if you have no other options, I can see why you'd want to use it regardless of the risk. If you had to hang out with someone suffering from cyclic vomiting/hyperemesis for a couple of hours, you'd probably understand your GI doc's caution, though.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:45 AM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just for the record, your gastroenterologist's concerns are based on real risk.

Except that this person reports relief from self-medicating, not a vomiting response. This is the kind of unnecessary and marijuana-specific risk aversion that the poster is probably receiving from his gastroenterologist: there are risks out there, nevermind that you don't seem to be experiencing them. Likewise, risk of side effects are cause for education ("please discontinue use and report back if you experience x, y, z"), not outright rejection, as with any therapeutic intervention.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:27 AM on October 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Some MD's are unable to 'endorse' this based on guidelines that come from the top of the clinic chain of command, no matter how benevolent they may be toward cannabis. Soooo...what I always let my patients know is that even though we cannot sign their paperwork, they can bring their chart notes to any clinic and have them reviewed by the doc who is likely making a few extra bucks reviewing medical records. It's generally the case that any notes from either your PCP or specialist would make your case pretty reasonably to whoever is reviewing it. It's a more circuitous route, and more costly, but may be worth the hassle.

You don't need to ever give a reason to a front desk or clinic about why you want copies of your chart notes.
posted by docpops at 7:01 PM on October 17, 2015

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