Ninety-three percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana. Now, thanks to new research, a sizable majority of substance abuse clinicians do, too.
Even though drug misuse professionals broadly back cannabis's medical value, they also see risks associated with its use.
“While most participants agreed that medical marijuana should be legalized and that its 'responsible' use was 'safe,' ” the study concluded, “they also believed that it is often abused and has not been studied adequately. Consistent with prior research, we found that fewer addictions treatment professionals (approximately 70%) than members of the public supported legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.”
Generally speaking, many medical professionals who treat substance use disorders (SUD) believe abstinence from recreational drugs is the best practice. This new study, which published in early July 2019 in the Journal of Substance Use, aimed to get a better understanding of where they stood on the medical use of marijuana.
“Given that negative attitudes toward patients, regardless of the reason, may result in premature treatment termination and poorer-quality care, it seems important to understand attitudes toward legalization of medical marijuana among SUD treatment professionals,” the researchers from Towson University in Maryland wrote.
Participants were asked to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with 22 statements, including:
- Marijuana is safe when used responsibly for medical purposes.
- Medical marijuana is often abused.
- A client can be in substance use disorder treatment when using medical marijuana.
- Marijuana can help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
- Taking marijuana instead of other drugs is only replacing one addiction with another.
They were also asked to share their personal history with cannabis and whether they knew anyone who had used medical marijuana.
A total of 966 addiction clinicians completed the survey between February and May 2018. They were identified through professional certification boards in Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Most reported having used marijuana (74%), knowing a medical cannabis patient (73%), and knowing patients with addiction issues who'd used cannabis in their recovery (61%).
Additionally, most respondents thought marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes and that its use was safe, though only 38% said it was “not detrimental to one's health.” Sixty-four percent said they believed medical cannabis is often abused.
Interestingly, however, many participants agreed that cannabis, including products that contain cannabidiol (CBD), could help with symptoms associated with addiction, such as anxiety and insomnia. While 70% said consuming marijuana is “trading one addiction for another,” most also thought it was acceptable for a person in SUD treatment to use medical marijuana.
“Overall,” the study's authors note, “our results suggest that addictions treatment providers have mixed opinions about medical marijuana legalization.”
Among the factors that appeared to influence participants' attitudes toward medical marijuana were age — younger professionals were more open to the idea — past experience consuming cannabis and personal knowledge of someone who'd used cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Providers on the East Coast also viewed medical marijuana more favorably than in other parts of the country.
“These mixed attitudes may actually reflect a healthy skepticism,” researchers conclude. “That is, if the current trends continue, addictions treatment professionals may be poised to both accept medical marijuana legalization and to handle any associated negative consequences.”
Featured Image: About 70% of drug abuse treatment professionals support medical marijuana legalization, but also fear the plant could be abused and has not been studied enough for its medicinal benefits. (Weedmaps News file photo)
This article was republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.