New York Doctors On Board With Medicinal Cannabis

Medical cannabis and New York physicians
Image: Bru-nO

A study published early last month indicates more than two-thirds of  physicians in New York City and surrounding areas feel medical marijuana (MMJ) should be an option available to patients.

71% of a total of 164 respondents held this view, even though most were not registered to certify patients for MMJ – however, many were happy to refer patients to registered physicians.

Among the other findings:

  • More than 75% reported having patients who used cannabis for controlling symptoms.
  • Half reported having patients who inquired about medicinal marijuana within the last 12 months.
  • Most would consider MMJ as an adjuvant* to opioids.
  • 84% believed opioids have greater risks than medical marijuana.
  • Among the MMJ-registered physicians, neuropathy (93%) and cancer (77%) were the most common conditions in patients, while pain (69%) was the most common symptom for which it was recommended.

Most physicians who responded to the survey said they were willing to discuss medical cannabis with their patients, but stated they had little familiarity with the state’s program and a “modest” knowledge of the endocannabinoid system – which is what MMJ acts on.

“Although our study sample is small and geographically limited, our survey results highlight key physician issues that are likely applicable to practitioners in other states,” state the study’s conclusion. “Concerted efforts are needed at the federal, state, and academic levels to provide practitioners with evidence-based guidelines for the safe use of MMJ.”

Of the survey participants, 86% held MD degrees only, 10% had DO degrees, and 4% held more than one advanced graduate degree.

The full survey report, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, can be viewed here (PDF).

New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, which happened in 2014. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when the program kicked off. Since then it has been expanded to include more qualifying conditions. These additional conditions include PTSD, which happened in November last year.

* According to Wikipedia, an adjuvant is a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents.