The overwhelming majority of United States clinicians believe cannabis has medicinal value, according to a new survey released last month.
The findings, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, showed that almost 70 percent of the clinicians surveyed “believe that cannabis has medicinal uses,” while a little more than 26 percent said they had recommended marijuana to patients.
“Clinicians who believed cannabis had medicinal uses had 5.9 times the adjusted odds (95% confidence interval 3.9–8.9) of recommending cannabis to patients,” the researchers involved in the survey wrote. “Beliefs about conditions for medical cannabis use did not necessarily align with the current scientific evidence. Nearly two-thirds (60.0%) of clinicians surveyed incorrectly reported the legal status of cannabis in their state.”
They added, in conclusion: “Findings suggest that while clinicians believe that cannabis has medicinal uses, they may not have a full understanding of the scientific evidence and may not accurately understand their state-based policies for cannabis legalization and use. 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 findings of the survey are telling, though probably not that surprising. Medical cannabis has been made legal in more than 30 states across America, buoyed by a prevailing belief in its medicinal value among professionals.
The survey is based on data from “1506 family practice doctors, internists, nurse practitioners, and oncologists who responded to the 2018 DocStyles, a web-based panel survey of clinicians.”
“Questions assessed medicinal uses for and practices related to cannabis and assessed clinicians’ knowledge of cannabis legality in their state. Logistic regression was used to assess multivariable correlates of asking about, assessing, and recommending cannabis,” the researchers wrote in explaining the methodology.
The authors said that their research was among the “first studies to assess clinician beliefs and practices related to medical cannabis in a U.S. multi-state sample.”
“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,” they wrote.
Clinicians Believe Cannabis Is Beneficial…So Politicians Should Not Prevent Access
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano pointed to the survey as a reason why politicians and governments should not impede patients’ access to medical cannabis.
“Overwhelming majorities of patients and their providers acknowledge that cannabis is a legitimate medicine. Politicians should not be standing in their way by opposing efforts to permit medical professionals from recommending cannabis to their patients in instances where they believe it is therapeutically appropriate,” Armentano said in a statement.
The survey results that say clinicians believe cannabis has medical value also dovetail with public opinion, with polls routinely showing majorities support not only medical cannabis, but the legalization of recreational pot use as well.
Medical cannabis has also been increasingly viewed as a safer alternative to stronger prescription drugs. A poll released last month found that 61 percent of medical cannabis patients in Texas used pot as a replacement for prescription drugs.
The survey was conducted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
“With the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, the state of Texas officially recognized that cannabis is medicine,” the survey’s authors explained. “Still, the vast majority of Texas patients are excluded from participating in the Compassionate Use Program (CUP) due to restrictions in the state’s law. Our recent survey of 2,866 Texas residents who use medical cannabis sought to gain insight into the needs and experiences of this population. The survey was conducted online between August 11, 2020, and October 6, 2020, and recruited participants through medical cannabis patient networks. Twenty-two percent of respondents were military veterans.”