Medicinal marijuana has long been a topic of controversy in the medical community. Issues about weed range from its legality to whether or not enough extensive studies have been done.

However, many experts acknowledge the benefits of medicinal marijuana and even feel that it could be a useful tool in treating cancer.

A study presented by the University of Colorado Cancer Center at the ASCO, American Society for Clinical Oncology, Annual Meeting 2019 showed that while 73 percent of surveyed oncology providers believe in the benefits that medicinal marijuana provides for cancer patients, only 46 percent of them were comfortable recommending it to patients. Survey respondents included 53 registered nurses, 48 specialized oncologists, 47 physicians, 17 pharmacists, and 7 oncology providers.

According to the report, 79 percent of survey respondents expressed that while they were uncomfortable prescribing medicinal marijuana as a tool for cancer treatment, additional educational programs during training and as continuing medical education courses could increase how comfortable they were in prescribing medicinal marijuana. Interestingly enough, around 68 percent of survey respondents reported that they received information about medicinal marijuana from their patients.

Doctor Healthcare providers acknowledge the benefits of medicinal marijuana and recognize that it is a useful tool in cancer treatment. However, they are still uncomfortable prescribing it to patients. Photo: marionbrun / Pixabay

This discomfort could stem from the fact that most providers don’t train in states where medicinal marijuana is legal. Adapting the healthcare education to include medicinal marijuana, and providing training on medicinal marijuana could help to increase the comfortability of current providers in prescribing medicinal marijuana as a useful tool for cancer treatment.

Providers also brought up another issue they had with prescribing medicinal marijuana in the form of legal and regulatory concerns. Those working in academic medical centers expressed concerns about prescribing medicinal marijuana as it could jeopardize federal funding since marijuana remains to be a U.S Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule 1 drug.

Providers reported that if additional clinical data regarding the effectiveness of medicinal marijuana were provided, and if there were to be endorsed guidelines that would dictate the conditions and situations in which medicinal marijuana is to be prescribed, they would feel more at ease prescribing medicinal marijuana.

While there are numerous cancer medication used to treat different symptoms, medicinal marijuana has the benefit of treating numerous symptoms simultaneously. Medicinal marijuana has been found to be especially helpful to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as it helps to quell many of the side effects that come with undergoing the treatment.