ask an expert medical marijuana

As medical marijuana becomes increasingly prevalent, it can be confusing for those of us with little more than a cursory familiarity with recreational use to understand how the drug can be utilized for medical purposes. Here today to offer some guidance is Dr. Rachna Patel, a medical marijuana doctor in the Bay Area.

Dr. Patel runs a clinic in Walnut Creek, CA, and frequently writes about the various uses for medical marijuana on her site. If you’re wondering whether medical marijuana might be right for you or what the process of getting a medical marijuana card is like, Dr. Patel is here to answer your questions. She’ll be here for the next hour so ask in the comments below!

This Q&A is now over. Thank you for your questions!

Q: Hi Dr. Patel, thanks for being with us today. What’s the most common misconception people have about medical marijuana?

A: The most common misconception I’d say is that people think that if you use it, you’ll get high off of it. However, once people are informed about what type of marijuana to use, how much of it to use, and how often to use it, the high can be completely avoided.


Q: Dr. Patel, my father was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What are some ways he can use medical marijuana if he does not want to smoke?

A: There are several alternatives to smoking marijuana. It can inhaled with a vaporizer. It can be eaten. It can be used as drops under the tongue. It can be applied to an affected area in the form of a salve or an ointment. Believe it or not, there are even rectal formulations of marijuana.


Q: Hello Dr. Patel, My wife suffers from TMJ and has not found anything that can giver her long term relief. I am in PA, so medical marijuana just became legal. Is this something we should peruse?

A: Patients that I’ve treated with marijuana for TMJ have found it helpful because it helps to relax the muscles around the joint. The main chemical in marijuana that acts as an anti-spasmodic is called Cannabidiol or CBD.


A: Hello & thanks for the Q&A. I had a question about inflammation. I’ve read that medical marijuana can help combat inflammation as well as help with pain (I’m a sufferer of psoriatic arthritis, and have unfortunate reactions to most OTC and RX NSAIDs and pain medications, so I’m hopeful some day I’ll live somewhere where I can at least try to see if it’d be helpful). Is this true about it helping decrease inflammation?

A: Great question. I’ve had great success treating patients with inflammatory conditions, such as Arthritis (even Psoriatic Arthritis) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. In fact, research shows that marijuana has twice the anti-inflammatory power of hydrocortisone, a steroid.


Q: Hi Dr. Patel, whenever going on new medication, I make it clear to my doctor/pharmacist that I am a cannabis user (it’s legal where I live) and they never know how the medication might interact with marijuana. Is there any information out there on what medication can and cannot be combined with weed? Also, just wondering, how safe is weed to use during pregnancy?

A: Over the past several years I’ve treated patients that have been on a variety of prescription medications. So far, I haven’t had any patients report any adverse interactions when they used marijuana along with these prescription medications. I hope that helps to answer your question.

Q:Hi Dr. Patel – my sister suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, and has struggled for years with different steroids and biologics. Is medical cannabis useful at all for conditions like Crohn’s and UC?

A:I’m glad you could join in on the discussion. My patients with Ulcerative Colitis have found marijuana useful in that it helps to reduce the abdominal pain and nausea they experience with the condition.

READ MORE: Medical Marijuana Helped Me When Nothing Else Could

by Andy Orin / Lifehacker