Marijuana: Doctors poll shows overwhelming support for medical cannabis

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Physicians around the world overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, according to a poll conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine last month. Focusing on the hypothetical case of a breast cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy and experiencing pain and heavy nausea, the poll asked doctors if they would recommend cannabis to alleviate symptoms.

Nearly 1,500 doctors from 72 countries responded, with the majority coming from Mexico, Canada and the United States. The results: 76 percent said they would recommend cannabis to patients for medical purposes.

In Colorado, respondents fit in with the national trend, with about two-thirds agreeing that medical cannabis use would be appropriate. In reality, though, only a small percentage of Colorado doctors recommend cannabis. Out of about 13,000 primary-care physicians and specialists, no more than 900 of them have written red-card recommendations for the 107,262 active patients on the registry.

But practicing medicine in a medical marijuana-friendly state wasn't required for a "yes" vote on the poll. In fact, for every state in which more than ten doctors responded, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of legalized medical cannabis. All but the State of Utah, that is, where only one out of 76 doctors was pro-ganja.

Otherwise, the general consensus was definitely that patients should have access to medical marijuana with a doctor's supervision. "Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering," the report notes. "Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana. In sum, the majority of clinicians would recommend the use of medicinal marijuana in certain circumstances."

Doctors opposed to medical cannabis use cited a lack of research evidence, inconsistency of dosage and concern over side effects, including psychosis. But another sizable portion of those responding said that marijuana shouldn't fall under the health-care umbrella at all: It should be legalized, they said, and it should be up to patients to decide for themselves whether they want to use cannabis.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana magazines as porn rule officially struck down at no cost to taxpayers" and "Marijuana vending machines coming to a recreational pot shop near you?"

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