The results of the study, which were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 76 percent of physicians polled would prescribe pot to patients who were experiencing pain from cancer.
According to the Journal, a non-scientific survey held in "Clinical Decisions, an interactive feature in which experts discuss a controversial topic and readers vote and post comments," received 1,466 votes from 56 states and provinces in the U.S. and the Americas, as well as 72 countries.
Participants were presented with the case of a 68-year-old woman named Marilyn who had been experiencing symptoms from metastatic breast cancer. Forum participants were asked to vote on whether physicians should prescribe medical marijuana to help her ease her symptoms. They were also given a pair of opinion pieces that were written for doctors arguing for and against the use of medical marijuana.
'What's the downside?'
In their report researchers said the results showed that "physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on [their] responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering." Continuing, they noted, "Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana."
Opponents of the use of marijuana for medical/pain relief symptoms, however, said they have not seen enough evidence to support its effectiveness. Also, they raised some concerns about dosages and potential side effects.
"I think there's some context that needs to be considered," said Dr. Bradley Flansbaum, one physician who said he'd prescribe marijuana to the theoretical patient, in an interview with HealthDay.
"This was a woman with stage 4 cancer who wasn't responding to [anti-nausea medications]," he said. "I'm not saying let's legalize marijuana, but this is a woman at the end of her life, so what's the downside, given that there might be a benefit. In a different situation, medical marijuana might not be so well embraced."
According to researchers, the number of physicians supporting medical marijuana use "surprised" them:
We were surprised by the outcome of polling and comments, with 76 percent of all votes in favor of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes - even though marijuana use is illegal in most countries. ... Given that North America represents only a minority of the general online readership of the Journal, this skew in voting suggests that the subject of this particular Clinical Decisions stirs more passion among readers from North America than among those residing elsewhere.The researchers noted that support for medical marijuana use was lowest in Utah (1 percent of 76 voters) and highest in Pennsylvania (96 percent of 107 voters).
Science is sound
More from the researcher's report:
Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering. Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana. Those who opposed the use of medicinal marijuana targeted the lack of evidence, the lack of provenance, inconsistency of dosage, and concern about side effects, including psychosis.The available evidence seems to suggest that supporters of medical marijuana use have science on their side. Several studies by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research have examined the effects of medical marijuana for neuropathic use.
"These studies have clearly shown the positive effects of using marijuana as a pain reliever and medicine for patients with such chronic conditions as HIV, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, spinal cord injury, and sleep disorders," Aaron Turpen wrote for NaturalNews in 2010.
See all of our medical marijuana coverage here: http://www.naturalnews.com/medical_marijuana.html
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