Study Shows Most Doctors Don’t Know About Medical Cannabis

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A study of more than 400 healthcare professionals found that most doctors lack knowledge about medicinal cannabis, with 65% saying they were asked about medical marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain , but were unable to answer questions from their patients.

The quantitative research study, which was commissioned by cannabis healthcare brand Cannaceutica, interviewed 445 physicians who treat chronic pain, including general practitioners and specialists in fields such as orthopedics, rheumatology and sports medicine, on their knowledge of medical cannabis. The doctors who participated in the study had two to 35 years of practice and were at least fairly knowledgeable about medical cannabis and at least fairly likely to recommend it to their patients with chronic pain, assuming medical marijuana was legally available.

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The vast majority of doctors asked about medical cannabis

An overwhelming majority (84%) of healthcare providers surveyed said their patients had asked or asked questions about cannabis for chronic pain, with 72% saying they had been surveyed within the previous 30 days. Dr Daniele Piomelli, director of the Institute for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California at Irvine and a member of the UCI Institutional Review Committee that approved the research, said in a press release that the study “emphasizes both the public interest around cannabis as a pain reliever and the lack of reliable data and / or medical education on its correct use.

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“In 2017, a National Academy of Science panel of experts concluded that there was ‘substantial’ but not ‘conclusive’ evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective in treating chronic pain in adults.” , continued Piomelli. “Five years later, we still lack the data necessary to address this problem, one way or another. It is time to fill this gap.

The study, which has yet to be published or peer reviewed, also found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of doctors said patients themselves were their main source of information about cannabis. , followed by the Internet (44%) and medical journals. (40%). The survey reveals a glaring lack of knowledge about the therapeutic uses of cannabis among medical professionals, most of whom receive little or no education about medical marijuana or the endocannabinoid system in medical school.

Research is revealing a growing body of evidence and support for the therapeutic use of cannabis for chronic pain. However, regulatory changes to cannabis go beyond the kind of evidence many doctors need to feel confident when recommending cannabis to their patients. The survey of healthcare professionals found that 81% of doctors believe cannabis will play a role in managing chronic pain in the future, but only one in four said they were very likely to recommend. medical marijuana for chronic pain today.

Challenges for physicians and patients

Mikhail Kogan, MD, medical director of the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and associate professor, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has treated and recommended cannabis to more than 3,000 patients, about half of them for chronic pain. But he says he’s a significant exception, as the lack of formal education makes it difficult for doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.

“We are wrestling with this issue for good reason. We don’t send patients to a website to learn more about their medications, so we shouldn’t send a patient to a website to learn more about cannabis, ”Kogan wrote in an email. “Patients can read books and research papers or talk to clinic clients for advice, but neither of these options is a good option. It is not even a plaster solution, as self-medication can lead to unwanted side effects.

Kogan adds that there is also too much trial and error in self-medication with cannabis, which can create complications or treatment discontinuation due to lack of information or dosage guidelines. And when recommending medical marijuana, Kogan notes that inconsistencies in available products also present problems for patients and providers.

“A patient can walk into a dispensary asking for a specific strain or product that suits them and either the dispensary doesn’t have it, or there are inconsistencies between the lots, and they can’t find the exact same product.” , explains Kogan.

Until the regulation of marijuana catches up to its current use, Kogan says healthcare providers and patients will continue to face challenges with the therapeutic uses of cannabis.

“Standardization in education is essential, but so is standardization with regard to cannabis pain products to ensure that the patient receives the exact same medicine every time,” he explains. -he.

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