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June 2019
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Give Health Care Providers a Break

Seventy-three percent of surveyed medical specialists providing health care think cannabis benefits their patients, but only forty-six percent felt comfortable recommending it. Topping the list of complaints is the usual drug war collateral harm involving uncertainties in marijuana strains versus specific medical effects, product availabilities, and punitive state or federal regulations:

“I think in some cases we’re missing out on providing a useful tool. Providers think it has benefit,” says Ashley E. Glode, PharmD, assistant professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the study’s first author. […]

Providers … reported legal and regulatory concerns, especially providers working in academic medical centers who expressed uncertainty whether recommending medical marijuana could jeopardize federal funding (marijuana remains a [DEA] Schedule 1 drug). Providers felt as if additional clinical data describing the effectiveness of medical marijuana and endorsed guidelines describing the conditions and situations in which it should be used would increase their comfort in prescribing. […]

“Knowledge is an issue,” Glode says. “If we could do a better job educating our healthcare providers, it might be used more often….”

Continued use of DEA scheduling to deliberately obstruct education and research on marijuana is futile. Research gets diverted elsewhere to countries such as Canada, making Canadians the first to profit from any patentable discoveries in their labs. Even those who reject marijuana for moral reasons become better informed about cannabis and its consumers when confronted by a diversity of people–some of them medicating cancer patients–who exemplify the fact marijuana use has nothing to do with a person’s moral character.

One possibility for US hesitancy to reschedule cannabis is it sees it as an admission of an embarrassing and crushing trillion-dollar defeat. Perhaps the beleaguered traditionalists in the federal government can find some comfort in knowing that defeats like those of the drug war, Viet Nam, General Custer’s last stand at the Little Bighorn, are a new national tradition thanks to prohibitionists.

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