Medical Cannabis : What Do Health Professionals Think?

Health professionals and medical cannabis
Image: gjbmiller

Australian/NZ researchers have shed some light on how medical practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and other medical/allied health professionals feel about medical cannabis.

Researcher from the schools of pharmacy at Queensland University of Technology and the University of Auckland set out to find answers to the following questions:

  1. How do health professionals feel about the use of medicinal cannabis in clinical practice?
  2. How knowledgeable are health professionals regarding medicinal cannabis?
  3. What concerns exist for health professionals regarding the delivery of medicinal cannabis?

Of the 15,775 studies retrieved to help determine this information, only 106 made the final cut for full-text review and of this number, 26 were included.

Medical practitioners

Of the 18 studies investigating medical practitioners’ perspectives, none presented results rejecting the clinical usefulness of medicinal cannabis outright. However, many practitioners indicated a lack of knowledge of the pharmacology of phyto–and synthetic cannabinoids and were mindful of the potential risks associated with uncontrolled supply.

Pharmacists

Only one study captured pharmacists’ beliefs and that was focused on Canada. 55% of Canadian hospital pharmacists agreed that  medicinal cannabis was effective overall. As with medical cannabis practitioners, overall, pharmacists’ self-reported knowledge was quite low and prominent was a view that a lack of accessible, solid literature was a major limitation to answering questions about medicinal cannabis.

Nurses And Others

The study report says those within these groups were largely supportive of medicinal cannabis and while not all supported it use, very few rejected its potential in a clinical setting. As above self-perceived knowledge in relation to the endocannabinoid system and the pharmacology of cannabinoids was largely considered poor.

The most common indirect public health concern among all the groups was cannabis would be obtained medicinally but used for recreational purposes.

“The general impression was that health professionals supported the use of medicinal cannabis in practice; however, there was a unanimous lack of self-perceived knowledge surrounding all aspects of medicinal cannabis,” state the authors. “Health professionals also voiced concern regarding direct patient harms and indirect societal harms.”

The above barely scratches the surface of the study report, which was published on PLOS One and can be viewed in full here.