Study finds physicians have limited knowledge of medical cannabis

Doctors & Cannabis

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Wednesday (September 15) the Michigan Caregivers Rally at the Capitol will bring leaders from the state’s patient advocacy organizations, elected officials and cannabis patients will speak to hundreds or thousands of cannabis consumers in Michigan from the steps of the Capitol Building about the necessity of cannabis caregivers. 

Doctors & CannabisThe National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) shares that physicians report possessing limited knowledge about cannabis, particularly with respect to advising patients on medical marijuana treatment plans, according to data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

A pair of researchers with the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor anonymously surveyed 244 practicing physicians. All of the participants practiced in a state where both the use of cannabis for medical and for recreational purposes was legal.

Consistent with prior surveys of health care professionals, the majority of respondents said that they possessed little or no formal knowledge about either cannabis or individual cannabinoids, and 64 percent said that they were “somewhat uncomfortable or very uncomfortable in integrating cannabis into their patients’ treatment regimens.”

Authors concluded: “We show that physicians from a university-affiliated health system in a state with legal recreational and medical cannabis have generally low levels of factual knowledge about medical cannabis. … Our results highlight the mismatch between physician knowledge and medical cannabis policy. Despite numerous long-standing medical cannabis laws (11 years in the state of the current study), physician training and education has insufficiently prepared physicians on cannabis-related knowledge. This is especially true for dosing, as most respondents were unsure about effective doses (in mg) of THC or CBD. … This lack of knowledge has contributed to general discomfort with integrating cannabis into medical practice. This discomfort likely pushes patients to turn to other sources to obtain cannabis-related knowledge, including the popular press, personal research, or from dispensary staff who receive little or no medical training. As such, more comprehensive training is necessary for physicians to bridge the gap between cannabis policy and clinical care.”

You can get additional information from the NORML fact sheet Health Clinicians’ Attitudes Toward Cannabis.