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Physicians-In-Training Need Better Education Regarding Medical Cannabis

Cannabis is medicine. That claim is backed up by an ever-increasing number of studies and the personal experiences of countless patients.

When patients go to appointments to see doctors, they expect to learn more about effective medicines and treatment strategies, including potential treatments involving cannabis.

They expect physicians to put their personal opinions about cannabis aside and for them to rely on their medical training when providing advice.

Unfortunately, programs designed to train future physicians are lacking when it comes to medical cannabis according to the results of a new study out of Canada.

Insufficient Instruction

Investigators affiliated with the University of British Columbia asked physicians-in-training to participate in a survey in which the aspiring physicians answered questions regarding the level of comfort they felt about administering medical cannabis.

Keep in mind, medical cannabis was first legalized in Canada over 20 years ago.

According to the results of the study, “the average amount of training received [by physicians-in-training] was less than 25 percent of the amount desired, and more than three quarters of trainees reported that further training would be required in order for them to engage comfortably with CTP [cannabis for therapeutic purposes].”

Physicians-in-training that participated in the survey reported that the biggest gaps in training involved cannabis dosing and cannabis’ risks/benefits profile.

“Our findings suggest that more education surrounding CTP among Canadian physicians-in-training will be required to remedy the perceived knowledge gaps reported by practicing physicians,” the researchers concluded.

Physician Training Should Be Driven By Science, Not Politics

Why are physicians-in-training receiving insufficient education when it comes to medical cannabis? The survey results in Canada are likely not only reflective of Canada’s physician community, but likely many parts of the rest of the world as well.

People go to doctors to learn about how to improve their health. If a proven medicine is available, doctors should be fully equipped with knowledge about the best practices to use that medicine.

Medical cannabis is widely available now in Canada and in many other countries thanks to cannabis reform efforts. For medical programs to ignore that fact is harmful, and there’s no excuse for it.

Physician training programs need to acknowledge the reality that people are consuming cannabis for medical and adult-use purposes. To do the opposite is ignorant.

Programs need to be driven by science and compassion, and not the outdated political views of politicians, which unfortunately is what appears to be happening right now.

Cannabis is a proven medicine and often safer than many pharmaceutical drugs that physicians-in-training are thoroughly educated about while pursuing their education. It’s beyond time that programs were updated to be based in reality, instead of being steeped in reefer madness.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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