We already know that 61% percent of Americans are eager to legalize marijuana, but a 2013 poll shows that a surprising number of doctors are also in support of making cannabis available for medicinal purposes.
In response to the survey’s results, researchers stated: “We were surprised by the outcome of polling and comments, with 76% of all votes in favor of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes – even though marijuana use is illegal in most countries,”
The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 30. In the journal, responses from 1,446 doctors from 72 different countries and 56 different states and provinces in North America were recorded. In addition, 118 doctors posted shared their comments about their decision on the survey.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. According to a 2008 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.2 million people had smoked week in the month prior to being surveyed, and it had been used by 75.6 percent of all illicit drug users.
But the decision to smoke marijuana is losing its stigma, as studies are increasingly being published showing its beneficial use for pain relief, mood enhancement, and increased appetite for patients who are prescribed to it medicinally. And its health benefits don’t end there. In the report, though, the National Institute on Drug Abuse pointed out that the evidence of its benefits is not enough to give marijuana Food and Drug Administration approval.
With that said, 19 states and the District of Columbia currently allow people to be in possession of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription, and Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Colorado are the first states to legalize pot for recreational use.
Some of the doctors who said they would prescribe it commented a lot on the responsibility of caregivers to help minimize their patients suffering, their patients’ personal choice and the known dangers of prescription narcotics and painkillers.
Dr. J. Bostwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, was one of the physicians for legalization and provided his insight about its beneficial uses saying, “There are no 100 percents in medicine. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that this is something we should study more. Forgive the pun, but there’s probably some fire where there’s smoke, and we should investigate the medicinal use of marijuana or its components.”
Castillo from CBS News reported, “Those who opposed prescribing marijuana pointed out the lack of evidence, uncertainty over where the marijuana was coming from, and problems with dosing and side effects.”
Among the surveyed doctors who opposed the use of medical marijuana was Dr. Gary Reisfield, who had this to say in Health Day: “Heavy marijuana use is associated with numerous adverse health and societal outcomes including psychomotor, memory and executive function impairments, marijuana use disorders, other psychiatric conditions such as psychosis, poor school and work performance and impaired driving performance.”
Physicians on both sides of the discussion questioned whether the use of marijuana for medical or any purpose should be the choice of the doctor or the patients. “Common in this debate was the question of whether marijuana even belongs within the purview of physicians or whether the substance should be legalized and patients allowed to decide for themselves whether to make use of it,” the authors said.