Survey: Most Patients Lack Confidence About Their Physicians’ Understanding of Cannabis

Ann Arbor, MI: Most state-registered medical cannabis patients lack confidence that their primary care providers possess a sufficient understanding of cannabis, according to survey data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Michigan Medical School surveyed 275 subjects enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis access program. 

Consistent with prior research, authors reported, “Only 18 percent of participants rated their PCP’s [primary care prover’s] knowledge about medical cannabis as very good or excellent and only 21 percent were very or completely confident in their PCP’s ability to integrate medical cannabis into their treatment.” As a result, most subjects (86 percent) reported obtaining their medical cannabis recommendation from a doctor specializing in cannabis rather than from their primary care provider.

Authors further reported that most subjects (86 percent) acknowledged substituting cannabis in place of other prescription medications – a finding that is consistent with dozens of other studies. However, nearly half (44 percent) of those who did so failed to inform their primary care physician of the changes to their prescription drug treatment regimen. 

Investigators concluded, “Our study highlights the need for better integration between medical cannabis and mainstream healthcare, including enhancing PCP education on cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, and the benefits, risks, and harms of cannabis in relevant therapeutic contexts.”

Several prior surveys of health care professionals working in the United States and abroad – such as those hereherehereherehereherehere, and here – have reported that that the majority of respondents do not believe that they possess sufficient knowledge about cannabis’ health and safety effects to adequately counsel their patients.

Full text of the study, “Communication between healthcare providers and medical cannabis patients regarding referral and medication substitution,” appears in the Journal of Cannabis Research.