More than Half of the Nation’s Doctors Support Legalization of Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/01/2014 in Medical Marijuana
Despite marijuana’s medical legalization in 21 states and counting, doctors are not overly recommending the plant for patient use. In a recently conducted survey taken by WebMD, 1,500 doctors were asked if they felt marijuana delivered medicinal benefits. While 69% of physicians felt that medical marijuana was indeed beneficial for medical use, 52% of patients polled agreed. Unsurprisingly, concluded WebMD’s chief medical director Michael Smith, “Uncertainty is the next largest response, with 37% of patients unsure of marijuana’s benefits versus 20% of doctors.” Still, “Regardless of past restrictions, a majority of patients and doctors see marijuana as delivering real benefits to treat patients.”
This uncertainty that Smith touches on has been reiterated by healthcare professionals, politicians, advocates, patients and non-supporters. For many, it is not so much an opposition to recommending marijuana for patient use, but a fear of the unknown. Without the FDA’s stamp of approval, or at the very least, further solidified medical discourse surrounding the plant’s benefits, many are still hesitant to form a full opinion.
When Sanjay Gupta took a complete 180 on his stance regarding medical marijuana, he publically apologized in an article he titled, “Why I changed my mind on weed.” He wrote, “Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive…I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research…I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
Gupta concluded that he, as well as the United States population at large has been systematically misled to believe that marijuana was lacking in medicinal benefits. Yet, all one truly needs to do to further their knowledge about marijuana’s benefits is delve into research conducted around the world. By narrowing and in turn, overlooking the global studies conducted that have found miraculous benefits within cannabis, uncertainty absolutely prevails as a dominant issue within this alternative treatment. Perhaps, uncertainty is what is keeping medicinal marijuana in the “alternative treatment” category at all.
Of the 1,500 doctors who were surveyed, 82% of the supporting physicians were hematologists and oncologists. As far as recreational use is concerned, 53% of physicians and 51% of marijuana consumers remain in opposition of a national legalization for recreational use. Additionally, 50% of doctors practicing in non-legal states feel it should be legalized, while 52% of doctors practicing in states currently considering legislation for medicinal purposes are in favor of its medical legalization. Forty-nine percent of consumers living in non legal states are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
Smith concluded that while the survey findings indicate the support of medical marijuana by the medical community, more studies absolutely must be conducted to boost physicians’ certainty as to whether or not medical marijuana can truly prove to be beneficial and in which departments it can be. In a press release, Smith said, “Despite more than 20 years of anecdotal evidence about the medicinal effects of marijuana, doctors and consumers remain in search of answers.
For many, anecdotal evidence is all they’ve had to go on. For patients and families of young patients, simply viewing Youtube videos of smiling toddlers reacting positively to CBD treatments is enough. Due to the incredible lack of substantial research conducted regarding marijuana’s medicinal benefits, anecdotal evidence is, for the majority of those seeking the plant, all there is to go on.
Still, according to the WebMD report, only a mere 2% of doctors and 7% of patients have reported actually using medical marijuana for certain ailments. Currently, 12 states including Montana, Delaware and New York are considering legalization of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes. Even with the shown support, 51% of patients said they remain unsure about marijuana’s side effects, but only 9% expressed fear that they could be severe. Despite the feared side effects, 45% of patients and 49% of physicians agreed that the benefits of marijuana for medicinal purposes far outweigh the risks.