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Legalize Medical Marijuana, Doctors Say in Survey

Doctors' Responses continued...

Support for medical marijuana also varied by specialty. Oncologists and hematologists showed the highest level, with 82% saying marijuana delivers real benefits to patients. These specialties are also the most likely to say that marijuana should be a medical option for patients (82%).  Medical marijuana is used to treat cancer pain, nausea related to chemotherapy, and to stimulate appetite.  

Rheumatologists ranked the lowest on that question, with 54% saying it delivers benefits. Marijuana may help arthritis pain and inflammation but it is not commonly used. 

 Neurologists reported the highest number of patients asking if medical marijuana might help them (70%). Marijuana may help multiple sclerosis and severe seizure disorders. Oncologists  and hematologists had the second highest level of patient inquiries with ophthalmologists coming in third. Medical marijuana can help relieve eye pressure with glaucoma but doesn’t work as well as other medications. 

“One of the most documented uses of medical marijuana is in the treatment of pain.  Medical marijuana may be a better painkiller than narcotic painkillers, like oxycodone, with less potential for addiction,” says Smith. “More research will help us better understand how best to use medical marijuana in the treatment of many conditions that cause chronic pain.”

Consumers' Responses

A survey of consumers on WebMD had similar levels of support for medical marijuana among the general public. Among 2,960 surveyed:

  • 50% support making it legal nationwide.
  • 49% of consumers in states where it is not legal say it should be legal in their states.
  • 52% say it can help with treatments and conditions.
  • 45% say the benefits outweigh the risks.

Most doctors and consumers surveyed oppose legalizing recreational marijuana nationally.

Colorado’s first stores selling marijuana for recreational use opened Jan. 1, and similar stores will open in Washington state later this year. Close to half of survey respondents say they disagree with those states’ decisions.

 WebMD’s survey was completed by 2,960 random site visitors from Feb. 23 to 26, 2014. It has a margin of error of +/- 1.8%. Medscape’s survey was completed from Feb. 25 to March 3, 2014 by 1,544 doctors who are members of Medscape’s panel, representing more than 12 specialty areas. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.5%.


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