Health Care Clinicians

Support for Cannabis

In a recent survey published by the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, nearly 70 percent of US health care clinicians believe in the use of cannabis as a medicine.

Commenting on the findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The overwhelming majority of patients and their providers acknowledge cannabis as a legitimate medicine. Medical professionals intending to recommend cannabis to their patients in instances where they believe it is therapeutically appropriate should not require the approval of politicians.”

Health Care Cannabis Survey Results

The survey was performed by a team of investigators affiliated with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Public Health Service. Investigators compiled responses from over 2,200 practicing doctors, internists, nurse practitioners, and oncologists regarding attitudes about medical cannabis.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that they believed that cannabis possessed medical utility. Those who favored its medical use were most likely to endorse marijuana use for treating pain (73 percent), cancer (72 percent), and nausea (61 percent).

More than one-in-four respondents (27 percent) acknowledged having authorized the use of cannabis for one of their patients. Many respondents were unable to accurately identify the legal status of cannabis in their state; many incorrectly believed marijuana was either fully or partially legal in states where it was not.

Clinician Cannabis Beliefs

Authors concluded: “This is among the first studies to assess clinician beliefs and practices related to medical cannabis in a U.S. multi-state sample. … Over two-thirds (68.9 percent) of clinicians surveyed believe that cannabis has medicinal uses and just over a quarter (26.6 percent) had ever recommended cannabis to a patient. … Results from this study suggest that the highest prevalence conditions where clinicians indicated they believed cannabis could be medically used were scientifically based – pain, nausea, appetite activation, anti-seizure, and spasticity.

“Clinician education about state-based policies for cannabis use may also be warranted. In this study, 6 in 10 clinicians incorrectly reported the cannabis legalization policy in their state. … Given that clinicians are responsible for recommending medicinal cannabis in most states that have legalized it, ongoing education about the health effects of cannabis is warranted.”

The full text of the study appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “Clinician beliefs and practices related to cannabis,”.

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