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Study: Doctors Will Need To Have An Education In Marijuana

The doctors of the future will have a different attitude toward marijuana than today’s MDs, according to a study conducted at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The report, released earlier this week, concluded that “medical students support marijuana legal reform, medicinal uses of marijuana, and increased research.”

The report’s conclusion also noted that the students “have concerns regarding risks of marijuana use, and appear hesitant to recommend marijuana to patients.”

About two-thirds (64 percent) of the students surveyed support cannabis legalization for adults. Nearly all (97 percent) believed that further marijuana research should be conducted, and believed marijuana could play a role in the treatment of various medical conditions.

But the students also have concerns:  77 percent believe that marijuana has potential for psychological harm, and 68 percent indicated concern for potential physical harm. Only a minority of students would recommend marijuana to a patient under current law (29 percent), or if it were legally available (45 percent).

“Despite strong support for marijuana legal reform, students expressed hesitancy to recommend it themselves, suggesting that medical students may not believe that there is enough data to safely recommend its use to patients and/or may not feel sufficiently trained to prescribe it,” said report co-author Michael Chan, a CU graduate and now a resident at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

The study, “Colorado Medical Students’ Attitudes and Beliefs about Marijuana,” was published on Wednesday in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In-state students had more favorable attitudes toward medical marijuana than those from out of state.  And students who have had real-life experience with cannabis also were more likely to support legalization.

Dan Matlock, another co-author of the study, said the next step in the research is to examine how the subject is taught in medical schools.

“Clearly, medical students have a need for excellent education on marijuana,” said Matlock, an associate professor of geriatrics at the CU School of Medicine. “There’s a lot we don’t know and, medically, there is so little data.

Eight states have legalized recreational adult use of cannabis and 29 states have a medical marijuana program in place.

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