Survey: Most Physicians Are “Uncomfortable” Integrating Medical Cannabis into Their Patients’ Treatment Regimens

Ann Arbor, MI: A majority of physicians say that they lack the skills to adequately counsel patients on the potential use of medical cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

Researchers affiliated with the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor surveyed 244 physicians regarding their willingness to engage in discussions with their patients about cannabis.

Consistent with prior surveys of health care professionals, most respondents perceived themselves as possessing “low knowledge and competence” with respect to the use of medical cannabis. When discussing the issue with their patients, most doctors limited their conversations to those involving cannabis-specific risks rather than safe use practices. 

Only a minority of those surveyed acknowledge having ever recommended medical marijuana to their patients. Those doctors that were willing to do so tended to be younger and were more likely to have “completed a formal course on medical cannabis.”

Authors concluded: “Lack of knowledge was most frequently cited as a reason for not making an MC [medical cannabis] recommendation. … Greater integration of MC into medicine and medical education is needed to maximize benefits and minimize risks of MC.”

Numerous surveys of medical professionals – including nursespharmacistsclinicians, and other health care practitioners – find that health practitioners are inadequately trained in matters specific to medical cannabis. 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, “Physicians’ attitudes and practices regarding cannabis and recommending medical cannabis use,” appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.