Thirty-five states in the USA now have medical cannabis programs and a 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report supported the therapeutic value of cannabinoids for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis-related spasticity.
But despite all this, it seems people still do not feel comfortable “admitting” to their mainstream physician that they are using medically prescribed cannabis according to a recent study published in Journal of Cannabis Research. Indeed, most state-registered users of medicinal cannabis lacked confidence that their primary care provider (PCP) possessed a sufficient understanding of the drug.
Reporting on the experience of 275 medical cannabis patients in Michigan, the researchers from University of Michigan Medical School found that only 18 percent of participants rated their PCP’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 reported obtaining their medical cannabis recommendation from a doctor specializing in cannabis rather than from their primary care provider.
The survey also found that while 86 percent had substituted cannabis for pharmaceutical medications, over two-thirds of these patients reported some gap in their PCP’s knowledge of their substitution, and 44 percent reported that their PCP was currently unaware of their substitution.
“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,” the researchers wrote.
“Applying this guidance in clinical practice would give PCPs better tools to assess safety and effectiveness of currently available cannabinoid products and could quickly feed back into clinical practice. As numerous clinical trials are underway, consistently updating this practical guidance based on the most recent data is critical”.