A new study shows that doctors believe medical marijuana can help people, but they aren't ready to recommend it to their patients yet.
A group of Australian researcher recently conducted a review of 26 studies from Australia, the US, Canada and Ireland to discover how medical professionals feel about marijuana. They found that most physicians support medical marijuana in general, but they feel like they need to be more informed before giving it to patients.
"Health professionals support medicinal cannabis but that support is sometimes offset by their concerns," Kyle Gardiner - the study's lead author - told the Brisbane Times. "Although they might feel it has a place in therapy, they also don't have a clear idea about where it fits."
Doctors are still considered about potentially negative psychiatric side effects of cannabis consumption, according to the study. These concerns often prevent doctors from moving ahead with recommending medicinal cannabis, explained Lisa Nissen of Queensland University.
"It puts health professionals in quite a tricky position, because if you don't have a good understanding of a drug, how best do you move forward from a clinical perspective?" said Nissen, who supervised the study.
However, the study also suggests that support for marijuana is growing among medical professionals. The review showed that new studies tend to have a more positive view on cannabis than older ones. Additionally, specialist practitioners also tend to have better opinions about cannabis than other healthcare professionals.
Convincing them to recommend cannabis to patients will require more research. Unfortunately, the research they want is exceedingly difficult to conduct in the US. Still, some headway is being made, both in Congress and at notable research institutions, so that problem could be overcome with time.
Hopefully doctors will have the data they need to fully embrace medical marijuana in the not too distant future.