MONTREAL–(NORML) Despite the federal government having legalized patients’ access to marijuana two decades ago, most Canadian health care providers acknowledge that they possess little knowledge about medical cannabis and almost none report having received any training about it while in medical school.
Survey data published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies reported that 56 percent of respondents felt either “uncomfortable or ambivalent regarding their knowledge of medical cannabis,” and that only six percent of medical professionals received any formal training about it while attending medical school. (By contrast, 60 percent of respondents said that they had attended either a workshop or a conference on the topic.) Fewer than one-in-three (27 percent) acknowledged being familiar with the regulations surrounding patients’ access to medical cannabis products.
The results are consistent with numerous other surveys from the United States and abroad finding that health professionals seldom receive any formal training about cannabis and that most lack sufficient understanding of the subject.
Authors concluded: “The majority of HCPs [health care practitioners] received little, if any, formal training in cannabinoid-based medicine in medical school or residency, … and nearly one-third were unfamiliar with the requirements for obtaining CMP [cannabis for medical purposes] in Canada. Respondents endorsed discomfort with their knowledge of MC [medical cannabis.] …. These findings suggest that medical training programs must reassess their curricula to enable HCPs to gain the knowledge and comfort required to meet the evolving needs of patients.”
Full text of the study, “Healthcare practitioner perceptions on barriers impacting cannabis prescribing practices,” appears in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Additional information is available in NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Health Clinicians Attitudes Toward Cannabis.’