Study: Majority of General Practitioners in Australia Support Legalizing Cannabis as a Prescription Medicine

In Australia, a majority of general practitioners believe cannabis should be legally available through prescription, according to a new study published by the National Institute of Health.

According to researchers, the objective of the study was to “examine the knowledge and attitudes of Australian general practitioners (GP) towards medicinal cannabis, including patient demand, GP perceptions of therapeutic effects and potential harms, perceived knowledge and willingness to prescribe.”

For the study, a cross-sectional survey was completed by 640 GPs attending multiple-topic educational seminars in five major Australian cities between August and November 2017. The main outcome measures were “Number of patients enquiring about medicinal cannabis, perceived knowledge of GPs, conditions where GPs perceived it to be beneficial, willingness to prescribe, preferred models of access, perceived adverse effects and safety relative to other prescription drugs.”

The majority of GPs (61.5%) reported one or more patient enquiries about medicinal cannabis in the last three months. Interestingly, even though most felt that their own knowledge was inadequate and only 28.8% felt comfortable discussing medicinal cannabis with patients, over half (56.5%) supported availability on prescription. The preferred access model “involving trained GPs prescribing independently of specialists.”

Support for use of medicinal cannabis was condition-specific, with strong support for use in cancer pain, palliative care and epilepsy, and much lower support for use in depression and anxiety.

The study concludes by stating that the “majority of GPs are supportive or neutral with regards to medicinal cannabis use. Our results highlight the need for improved training of GPs around medicinal cannabis, and the discrepancy between GP-preferred models of access and the current specialist-led models.”

Click here for the full study.

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