How to Start a Cannabis Conversation with Your Doctor and Engage with a Cannabis Health Coach

advocacy anxiety depression ecs stigma May 04, 2023
back of a woman patient engaged in conversation with her doctor


By: Alex Mitchell, Integrative Life and Cannabis Coach

If you are exploring the possibility of switching from medication to cannabis to help with depression and anxiety, it’s important to have an open discussion with your doctor. 


Preparing for the Conversation with Your Doctor

Before the visit, take some time to note your reasons for seeking an alternative treatment such as cannabis for your mental health needs. You may want to discuss any side effects or lack of efficacy you’ve experienced on your current medications. If the desire to use a more natural treatment option is one of your reasons, include that information too. Be ready to discuss your specific symptoms of depression and anxiety and how they are impacting your daily life. 

All of this information will help your doctor understand your individual needs and respond to your desire to try cannabis as a treatment option. 

Not every doctor will be open to this discussion, so prepare yourself to potentially seek a more cannabis-accepting doctor. If your doctor doesn’t know much about cannabis or the endocannabinoid system, providing information from a fellow doctor may do much to ease their minds.


Cannabis for Anxiety and Depression: Insights from Medical Experts

Dr. Bonni Goldstein is a prominent physician and medical cannabis expert who has written extensively about the therapeutic potential of cannabis. While she has not focused specifically on depression in all of her work, she has shared some insights on the use of cannabis for mood disorders in general.

In her book "Cannabis is Medicine," Goldstein says that "studies suggest that cannabis can have antidepressant-like effects and can be used as a mood stabilizer. By stimulating the endocannabinoid system, cannabis can help to regulate emotions and improve overall mood."

Goldstein does note that the effects of cannabis on mood are complex and can vary depending on the individual and the specific chemovar of cannabis used. She also clearly indicates that cannabis should be used as part of a holistic treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes and other therapeutic interventions.

In her book "Vitamin Weed: A 4-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency," Michele Ross, Ph.D. notes that "cannabis can help regulate mood by supporting the endocannabinoid system, which plays a key role in maintaining emotional homeostasis." She also points out that "THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, can help boost mood and reduce anxiety and depression in some people."

Like Goldstein, Ross emphasizes that the effects of cannabis are highly individualized and complex, and consumption methods and chemovars also play a key role. She too notes that cannabis should be used as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes and therapy. 


Knowing the Legal Status of Cannabis in Your State

In addition to planning your talk with your doctor, it is also important to know the legal status of cannabis in your state. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, provides information on their website. A map of the United States is provided that allows you to select your state and access information on the medical cannabis program in your area.

Each state page includes information on the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, how to apply for a medical cannabis card, and details on where to find medical cannabis dispensaries in your area. The website also provides links to additional resources, including legal information and patient advocacy groups.


Approaching the Conversation with Your Doctor

Now that you’ve gathered the information to share with your doctor, how do you approach the conversation? 

Here is an example of what you might say to open the dialogue with your doctor:

"I've been struggling with depression for a while now, and I've tried a few different medications, but nothing seems to be helping. I've been reading about the potential benefits of cannabis for depression, and I'm interested in exploring it as an alternative treatment option. I know that it's not a cure-all, but I'm willing to try anything that might give me some relief from my symptoms. I want to work to develop a treatment plan that incorporates cannabis. I understand that there are risks and potential side effects, but I'm willing to weigh those against the potential benefits. I just want to feel better and get back to enjoying my life."

Your doctor will create a plan to reduce or taper off of prescription medication. However, if they are not well-versed in cannabis, inviting a cannabis health coach to your mental health team can be incredibly useful. They can assist by educating you about cannabis, working with you to pinpoint your dosage and consumption method, and can provide updates to the doctor as needed.


Incorporating a Cannabis Health Coach Into Your Mental Health Care Team

To introduce the idea of a cannabis health coach as a part of your mental health care team, you might begin the conversation with your doctor this way:

“I have found a cannabis health coach who can help me understand the various types of cannabis and how to use them in a safe and effective manner. I believe that working with a coach as part of my mental health care team could help me get the most out of this potential treatment. The cannabis health coach is open to providing regular updates to you if needed.”

Incorporating a cannabis health coach into your mental health care team can also provide valuable support. A coach can serve as an advocate and guide throughout the process. They can help you explore any stigma you may feel about discussing cannabis with your doctor.

To connect with a cannabis health coach who can join your team, a great place to start is the directory available on the Effective Cannabis Newsletter website. The directory provides detailed information about various cannabis health coaches and their areas of specialization. It is essential to select a coach who has received specialized education on the appropriate use of cannabis for wellness. If you choose to seek a coach outside of the ECN directory, it's crucial to verify their qualifications and training in working with cannabis as a medicine.


Empowering Steps Toward Managing Your Mental Health

While there is still much to learn about the effects of cannabis on mental health, it's exciting that scientific research in this area is ongoing. It means that we are continually learning more about the potential benefits of cannabis for mental wellness. Trying cannabis under the guidance of a healthcare professional and the partnership of a cannabis health coach could be an empowering step forward to discovering a new, effective way to manage your mental health.




Goldstein, B. (2018). Cannabis is Medicine: How Medical Cannabis and CBD are Healing Everything from Anxiety to Chronic Pain. Little, Brown Spark.


Ross, M. (2018). Vitamin Weed: A 4-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency. Prima Vista Publishing.


About Alex Mitchell:

Alex Mitchell is an Integrative Life and Cannabis Coach, educator, as well as a cannabis medical patient. She works with people who are seeking deep change in their lives, whether that is through the use of plant medicine or other change work techniques.

Click the Learn More Button 


Effective Cannabis Newsletter is a platform to educate on the vital role of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in one's health. The information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information contained in or available through this newsletter is for general information purposes only. It is not medical advice; it is health awareness.

Were you moved or inspired by a piece of content?
Do you have a suggestion or question for us?
Do you have a powerful story about your health and Cannabis?

Click the button and let us know!


Want Reliable Information on Medical Cannabis Every Month?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter with rotating topics

You're safe with us. We will never spam you or sell your contact info.