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Physicians Divided on Prescribing Medical Marijuana 
(Posted 4-30-01)

A new national survey found that physicians are evenly divided on the issue of medical marijuana, Reuters reported April 24.

A survey conducted by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I., found that of the 960 physicians questioned nationwide, 36 percent agreed that doctors should be able to legally prescribe marijuana as medical therapy, while 38 percent disagreed and 26 percent were neutral.

"We hypothesized that physicians would be more likely to support medical marijuana use in states with legislative mandates," said lead author Anthony Charuvastra. "However, we discovered that was not the case. Instead, we found that specialty, residence in a state that had ever approved medical marijuana research, and physicians' 'permissiveness' and 'non-moralism' attitudes were associated with supporting medical marijuana."

For the study, researchers surveyed physicians in five specialty areas: addiction medicine-psychiatry, general psychiatry, obstetrics-gynecology, family practice, and internal medicine.

The results of the survey found that obstetricians-gynecologists and internists were more likely to support medical marijuana than other specialists surveyed. The researchers postulated that doctors in these two specialty areas see more cancer patients and are more sensitive to marijuana's potential to ease chemotherapy side-effects and pain.

On the other hand, physicians in the other specialty areas surveyed see more active drug addicts and may be concerned about marijuana's negative effects.

The results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, held recently in Los Angeles, Calif.


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