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Most Doctors Unprepared To Prescribe Medicinal Marijuana

A new study shows that, while cannabis is becoming more mainstream, it’s not in the case of the halls of our medical schools. In fact, it’s hardly talked about at all.

Senior author, Dr. Laura Jean Beirut, who is a professor of psychiatry stated, “Medical education needs to catch up to marijuana legislation.”

Cannabis is now legalized in some form, either medical or recreational, in 29 states and Washington D.C. That’s an enormous amount of the population that seemingly can’t talk to their doctor about how best to utilize cannabis. For many citizens, especially those new to the world of medical marijuana, that can be quite daunting.

One-hundred and one medical schools had curriculum deans fill out surveys regarding marijuana education. A little over two-thirds said that their students would not be prepared to prescribe cannabis in a clinical setting. A quarter of them said their students wouldn’t even be able to answer questions regarding the plant.

Two-hundred and fifty-eight medical residents and fellows were also surveyed by the researchers. Nine out of 10 replied that they were untrained and not prepared to prescribe medical cannabis. Most of those surveyed also said that they’d received no formal education regarding marijuana.

The Association of Medical College’s database showed that only 9% of medical schools teach their students about medical marijuana.

“As a future physician, it worries me,” said the study’s first author Anastasia Evanoff, who is a third-year medical student. She continued, “We need to know how to answer questions about medical marijuana’s risks and benefits, but there is a fundamental mismatch between state laws involving marijuana and the education physicians-in-training receive at medical schools throughout the country.”

Evanoff did also add that doctors were getting better training toward opioid use and abuse.

“We talk about how those drugs [opioids] can affect every organ system in the body, and we learn how to discuss the risks and benefits with patients, but if a patient were to ask about medical marijuana, most medical students wouldn’t know what to say,” Evanoff concluded.

This research was published originally in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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