The lack of proper information and education on medical marijuana and its full scope is not only limited to consumers and patients alone. It also applies to physicians.
Cannabis is no longer seen as a plant that only has the potential for inducing euphoria. The natural herb has now found numerous medicinal applications which have helped in promoting its popularity.
Cannabis is currently being used for a number of medical conditions which forms the basis for medical marijuana therapy. With the advent of technology and the internet, most of the information people have about medical cannabis comes from internet sources. It is therefore important for a proper assessment to be done on the type of information these internet sources are making available to the general public.
Only very few people of this era experienced the period of full-scale prohibition and war on drugs where cannabis was termed an illicit drug. A few decades on and the natural herb is now widely regarded as a medical and recreational drug utilized by many for different reasons. This change however wasn’t complemented by all the necessary additives needed for solidification. The education aspect of the cannabis industry is still playing catch up with the trend of legalization as there is still so much that is to be learned about the medicinal herb.
Reliance of both patients and physicians on internet information
Drugs like tobacco and alcohol have well-defined limits that help to guide those interested in these products however, such is yet to be fully existent when it comes to cannabis. This is major because laws guiding states when it comes to cannabis are different from state to state. Cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic drug federally which means that it is seen to have a high potential for dependence and no medicinal value.
This classification has led to varying regulations in different places and a lack of holistic information to guide the public and necessary stakeholders. With full legalization, proper dispersal of information on the beneficial aspects of cannabinoids and their use medically is bound to abound but since that isn’t a reality yet it is important to analyze the type of information the public has available to them via numerous internet sources.
The lack of proper information and education on medical marijuana and its full scope is not only limited to consumers and patients alone. It also applies to physicians. With the apparent lack of sufficient research, most physicians only give out the little knowledge of cannabis that they have. This effect is also seen in the way some of these physicians attend to patients in need of medical marijuana therapy.
This situation is made more serious by the fact that only three of the 33 states with legalization for medical marijuana have certification requirements for their physicians. This means that the physicians much like the patients depend on internet sources for quality information on medical marijuana.
What is the internet saying?
It is very easy to go on the internet and make searches on different topics related to medical marijuana. Characterizing the type of information arrived at in such internet searches is pivotal to understanding what we are heading into. Common search terms on Google search include “medical marijuana,” “medical cannabis,” “types of medical marijuana”, “cannabis and health,” “marijuana and health”. These are examples of the prominent search terms that were sought out on Google search between November and December 2020. A research report used these common search terms as a basis to catalog search results from different websites with a view towards having a strong content analysis of the output of such websites.
Different criteria were used in this analysis to help classify and arrange the results obtained from the sites. Some of the criteria include separating different pages that were found on the same website, using different codes for content, recording, and other information found on such websites. The report also coded whether such sites mentioned the health conditions that cannabis is treating and also whether or not the website mentioned specific strains, products, level of THC potency, and so on. These sets of guidelines helped Daniel Kruger and his colleagues establish a well-defined content analysis of these internet sources.
It was noted from the 344 pages and 179 unique websites coded for this report that only 3% had age verification click boxes while none used any other stringent form of age verification. The meaning of this observation is that critical and sensitive information is being made available without measures to protect the underage from accessing such info.
Another important observation from the results of this report is that 92% of the sites mentioned specific health conditions that can be treated with cannabis. This is because there are common examples of conditions that are known to be treated by cannabis. Examples of such conditions include pain, seizures, sleep disturbances, inflammation, and others. A summary was given in the same report showing the list of conditions recommended for cannabis treatment in identified websites.
Many of the sites that were used for the report made mention of specific cannabis strains (66%) though very few made mention of the THC levels (13%) and CBD levels (7%) of such strains. 30% of the sites also delved into the harmful and unwanted side effects that plagued some conditions associated with cannabis use. There were other statistics in this report by Daniel Kruger showing just how much info on medical marijuana is on the internet and how balanced and widespread this info is.
The study carried out by Daniel Kruger and his colleagues, shows that there is a wealth of knowledge on medical cannabis available on the internet. This is where easy accessibility and availability of such information come as an advantage to every one intrested in cannabis. However, there is nothing with advantages that doesn’t have downsides. One of the issues that can be identified is that some of these sites tend to exaggerate while talking about some possible actions of cannabis.
Although some sites are known to do this to create traffic for their sites, it ultimately defeats the purpose of the availability of such info. The credibility of the info being published should matter more.