What Do Doctors Really Think About Medical Marijuana?
Support for medical marijuana is growing in America, with eighty-four percent of adults saying they support giving doctors the right to prescribe it. Fifty-three percent of Americans support recreational use of cannabis, while twenty-three states and Washington DC have already passed laws allowing doctors to recommend the drug to patients. The only community that has remained silent on the issue are doctors themselves- until recently.
Many doctors have kept their opinions about marijuana silent for fear of retaliation, but recent state laws and a shift in public opinion have convinced a number of physicians to speak up. A poll conducted in 2014 by WebMD/Medscape found that seventy percent of American doctors believe marijuana has medical benefits and should be allowed as a legal treatment for various conditions. Fifty-six percent support legalization on a federal level. The largest group of supporters were hematologists and oncologists- eighty-two percent believe that cannabis could provide relief to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Rheumatologists represented the smallest group of supporters, with fifty-four percent in favor of using marijuana as medicine.
In 2013, The New England Journal Of Medicine published the results of a survey showing that seventy-six percent of doctors worldwide advocate the use of pot for certain patients. 1,446 doctors from 72 different countries, including 56 states and provinces in North America, responded to the poll with overwhelming favor. The researchers characterize the responses of doctors both in favor and opposed to legalization in their summary.
“Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering. Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana. Those who opposed the use of medicinal marijuana targeted the lack of evidence, the lack of provenance, inconsistency of dosage, and concern about side effects, including psychosis.”
There is one factor almost all doctors agree on: we need more research. The more evidence we compile about marijuana, the easier it will be for doctors and patients to make an informed choice. Unfortunately, the US government has hindered research for several decades and continues to claim that marijuana belongs on the Schedule 1 narcotics list, despite the fact that it meets none of the criteria. According to the definition, Schedule 1 drugs have a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use“. Seventy-six percent of doctors around the world and fifty-six percent in America disagree.
Even the Surgeon General disagrees. In an interview with CBS This Morning, Vivek Murthy said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful”. President Obama has also shown his support for medical cannabis. In a documentary series called WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution, the president said, “I’m on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I’m also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be.”
So basically, allow doctors to study and prescribe marijuana, and stop throwing pot smokers in jail!
The polling results are in. Americans want medical marijuana to be an option. Doctors support legalizing the drug, or at least removing it from it’s ridiculous position on the Schedule 1 list. Eighty-two percent of oncologists and hematologists want cannabis to be available for cancer patients. Both the President and the Surgeon General believe pot has medical benefits, and everyone wants to see as much research as possible so that we can make decisions based on fact instead of outdated rumor. It’s time for a change, America. It’s time to give doctors the right to do their job.