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WIRE: Medical students ill prepared to discuss medical cannabis

St. Louis, MO — Medical students are rarely provided with educational information specific to the medicinal use of cannabis and are ill equipped to discuss the issue with their patients, according to survey data published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis surveyed medical school deans and residents and evaluated curriculum databases to assess the degree of education physicians-in-training receive on the topic of medical marijuana.

Authors reported: “Over 75 percent of medical school curriculum deans reported that their graduates are not at all prepared or are only slightly prepared to answer patients’ questions about medical marijuana, and 94 percent reported that their graduates are not at all prepared or only slightly prepared to prescribe medical marijuana.” In addition, fewer than ten percent of medical schools have medical marijuana documented in their curriculum.

A 2015 study similarly reported that 90 percent of pharmacy students believe that greater emphasis on medical cannabis ought to be included in their curriculum.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur study highlights a fundamental and potentially growing mismatch between the legalization of medical marijuana at a state level and the ability of physicians to properly address patients’ questions about medical marijuana or to appropriately prescribe it. … With more states on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, we must address this mismatch between policy and physician training so that we can best help our patients obtain the potential benefits and minimize adverse consequences from using medical marijuana.”

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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