Medical Marijuana For Children With Cancer Broadly Supported By Doctors

Photo Credit: 7raysmarketing (pixabay.com)

Photo Credit: 7raysmarketing (pixabay.com)

According to a survey of pediatric oncologists which was published in the journal Pediatrics, 85% of physicians who were certified to prescribe medical marijuana were willing to help children with cancer access the medication. Additionally, 95% those who were not eligible to provide the medication supported medical marijuana access for pediatric cancer patients. The survey was sent to 654 doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers and registered nurses who care primarily for children with cancer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Seattle Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Of the 288 who responded, a third were certified to prescribe medical marijuana. Physicians were less likely to support smoking marijuana (57%) than they were to support oral formulations (89%) for administering the medication, and 93% were interested in more advanced clinical trials investigating these uses. Physicians were more likely to support the use of medical marijuana in patients as their conditions advanced.

Of the respondents, 3 in 10 providers who were asked for medical marijuana at least once in the previous month were asked to prescribe it for nausea and vomiting (79%), and half of those requests additionally wanted to manage loss of appetite (52%). A quarter of patients wanted medical marijuana for pain management (26%), or for the management of depression and anxiety. While only 8% of providers recommended medical marijuana to patients in practice, 92% still said they would be willing to help children with cancer get the medication and approve of its use for treating children’s symptoms. Nearly half of providers cited the biggest obstacle in providing medical marijuana to pediatric cancer patients as not having standard medical marijuana formulations, dosages, or strength. Authors explained, “Given burgeoning interest in medical marijuana, especially in oncology care, it is critical that providers who are routinely approached for access to medical marijuana possess baseline knowledge on regulations, known benefits and harm… Randomized clinical trials using such MM [medical marijuana] formulations for supportive care in children with cancer are needed to better understand the therapeutic potential.”

This information has been provided by Forbes and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

New Study: Doctors Are Not Worried About Marijuana

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

We frequently hear about where medical marijuana patients and advocates stand on medical marijuana legalization, and national polls increasingly show how Americans in general feel about the subject, but where do the physicians, the prescribers of the medication, stand? According to a new paper outlined by the Washington Post regarding a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), physicians are less concerned about marijuana than they are about alcohol and tobacco use. Physician Nathanial P. Morris wrote in the Scientific American, "We don't see cannabis overdoses... We don't order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don't treat cannabis-induced heart attacks... In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption—something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening."

Other studies have suggested prohibitionist concerns over marijuana and health are exaggerated. A study from Arizona State found the sole health issue concerning chronic chronic marijuana use was increased risk for gum Disease. Another study pooling more than 1,000 lifelong cannabis users concluded smoking weed was about as much of a harm to a person’s health as forgetting to floss. Authors wrote, "Across several domains of health (periodontal health, lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic health), clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health."

This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.