Medical marijuana is legal currently in 29 states, and more are looking to pass marijuana legislation this year. Despite all this legislative progress in medical and recreational cannabis, doctors are often ill-equipped to discuss the realities of medical marijuana or dismissive of its benefits. Consequently, doctors and patients alike are wondering: Should medical schools start teaching about cannabis? Considering marijuana’s plethora of newly discovered medical uses, its growth in popularity, and progress in its research internationally, it’s time for the American medical community to educate our doctors on our favorite herb.
A Brief History of the Medical Community and Cannabis
There is a lot of smoke when it comes to doctors, cannabis, and big pharma.
As Alan Hirsch of the cannabis science company, Diagnostic Lab Corporation, explains, “Big Pharma is lobbying against legalization, on the purported grounds of safety, but in reality, they are just buying time to create their own synthetic cannabis medicines.”
Big Pharma has a fairly contradictory relationship with marijuana.
Furthermore, through their campaign to stop legal marijuana, big pharma is preventing doctors from accessing the herb. This amounts to difficulty prescribing it and learning about its advantages.
Almost no doctors receive formal marijuana education
As High Times reported in September, 90 percent of doctors learn nothing about medical marijuana in medical school according to a study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
This makes sense, considering that only nine percent of medical schools have a curriculum that covers medical marijuana. These figures come from the Association of Medical Colleges.
They collected the findings of the 100 medical schools that surveyed their students about marijuana education. The vast majority of medical students claim to be ill-prepared to prescribe marijuana.
The survey also found that 25 percent wouldn’t feel comfortable even discussing cannabis with their patients.
No formal education on marijuana means fewer medical marijuana prescriptions
The consequences of marijuana ignorance are wide-reaching. To prescribe a medication, doctors need to have formally studied the substance beforehand.
This means that, legally, most doctors cannot prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. Moreover, cannabis, in all forms from oils to moonrocks, is illegal on the federal level, meaning that doctors can lose their license for prescribing marijuana in the first place, or even go to court for administering what is still categorized as a Schedule I substance.
Should medical schools start teaching about cannabis? As schooling would allow for more medical marijuana prescriptions, the answer is unequivocally yes.
Current status of medical marijuana education
The vast majority of medical students do not have access to these programs. However, a few universities are beginning to offer courses on medical marijuana.
The topics of these courses range from the legality of cannabis to medical marijuana’s uses. Schools teaching this curriculum include the UC Davis, the University of Vermont, Ohio State University, and the University of Washington.
Check out the course descriptions for Cannabis Science and Medicine, Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform, the Physiology of Cannabis, and Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain!
And now, with national legalization on the horizon, Canadian cannabis education is going even further with a cannabis cultivation course offered at Dieppe Community College in New Brunswick.
The Canadian government even supports this course. With demand for marijuana set to increase upon legalization this summer, the Canadian government hopes to produce a qualified cannabis workforce.
The government even gave the first 25 students to sign up for this course free enrollment.
Final Hit: Should Medical Schools Start Teaching About Cannabis?
Medical marijuana information is far from accessible. Though some progressive universities offer marijuana education courses, higher education has yet to catch up with legalization efforts.
Before taking courses, American medical professionals cannot, legally or in good conscience, prescribe medical marijuana.
Until then, only a few of the 25 million Americans suffering from daily pain and those seeking alternative treatments for diseases like cancer have access to a natural remedy with scientifically proven benefits.
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