Survey: Most Internal Medicine Residents Lack Adequate Knowledge About Cannabis

New York, NY: The majority of internists in training possess little or no knowledge about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, according to survey data published in the journal BMJ Primary Care.

A team of investigators with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York surveyed a group of internal medicine residents regarding their knowledge about the medical use of marijuana. 

Ninety-three percent of respondents said that they lacked adequate knowledge about cannabis’ overall effects, and 97 percent said that they lacked sufficient knowledge regarding which indications it could address. Eighty-three percent of participants said that they were “unsure where to find pertinent information,” and 92 percent agreed that education regarding cannabis should be included in their training. 

Authors concluded: “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to observe a critical lack of knowledge in MM [medical marijuana] in in-training IM [internal medicine] residents. Hence, it is worth implementing a curriculum for resident physicians that includes indications, medication interactions, and side effects of MM use.”

The findings are consistent with those of surveys of other medical professionals – including nurses, pharmacists, clinicians, and other health care practitioners – all of whom report possessing insufficient training in matters specific to medical cannabis. Separate survey data published in 2020 reported that fewer than one-in-five patients believe that their primary care providers are sufficiently knowledgeable about cannabis-specific health-related issues.

Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana knowledge and attitudes amongst internal medicine residents,” appears in BMJ Primary Care. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Health Clinicians’ Attitudes Toward Cannabis.’