21st June: Survey suggests interesting positions
More doctors support or turn a blind eye to their patients use of medical cannabis than are opposed to it, a recent research project suggests.
In a survey of over 150 GPs and other medical practitioners – believed the largest of its kind yet undertaken – over fifth (22%) said they were fully behind those in their care who told them they were using the drug for medical reasons. A further fifth (21%) indicated they were happy to turn a blind eye.
38% said they were opposed to their patients using pot.
The informal research [download report here] was carried out by the Medical Cannabis Users Association (MCUA) between November 2016 and the present. The group has over 14,000 members nationwide and campaigns for better access to the drug after the Government introduced regulations in 2016 that, they say, have made it all but impossible to obtain. It encouraged members to to ask their GPs and other specialists what they felt about prescribing it for a variety of conditions.
According to very quick analysis undertaken by this website, while a significant number of doctors actively encouraged their patients’ cannabis use, a further fifth (20%) said the paperwork involved in obtaining it was too difficult, or regulatory problems prevented them from doing so.
Only 8% claimed they didn’t have enough information to hold any opinion at all.
MCUA President Gail Hester said the findings were ‘encouraging’ but that there was still a long way to go in educating heathcare practitioners about the plant and its medical benefits.
‘You could argue these findings show a selection bias in that all of the patients concerned were themselves strong proponents of cannabis,’ she said, ‘but you can’t argue with what some of these doctors are actually saying. It calls into question the official positions of those like the AMA who insist cannabis hasn’t been researched well enough or that its benefits have been over-stated. Right now, throughout Australia, thousands of people are finding relief but are forced to rely on the black market – and obviously a lot of doctors know about it and don’t object.’
Others she said, just needed more information.
‘In our experience as soon as people are presented with the real facts about this plant and what it can actually do, almost all quickly become converts.’
She cited CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta who, who, in 2013, publicly apologised to the entire US nation for getting things wrong about cannabis. In 2009 he’d penned an article for Time Magazine called ‘Why I Would Vote No On Pot.’
But Dr Gupta subsequently changed his position completely, writing: ‘I am here to apologise. I apologise because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.’ And he went on to admit: ‘We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years…and I apologise for my own role in that.’
Release of the document is timely, coming as it does just one day prior to the first Medical Cannabis Course which takes place tomorrow (22nd June) in Melbourne. Put together by United in Compassion’s Dr David Caldicott the event is believed to have sold well, with dozens of medics expected.
If both the MCUA research and interest in the UIC course are indicative, medical cannabis might be getting on a roll.