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Study: Majority of Doctors Support Medical Marijuana for Children

Children Marijuana

A recently published study in Pediatrics found that 85% of doctors that can prescribe medical marijuana would do so for children with cancer. These doctors also stated they don’t support smokable medical marijuana for children.

There is strong support for clinical trials to research children using medical marijuana, according to Forbes. Support is stronger when children are severely ill or terminal.

Dr. Prasanna Anath said, “Several studies over the past decade have ascertained that physicians are apprehensive about adult use of medical marijuana. This reluctance appears to be driven by the potential for side effects, scant high-quality of scientific data, unclear dosage guidelines and a lack of regulatory oversight by the FDA, unlike other therapeutic and supportive care drugs.”

Collectively, the authors of the study said concerns regarding children using medical marijuana are larger particularly because of possible “impaired neurocognitive development, and poor academic achievement in children.” They continued, “Recommending medical marijuana may thus be fundamentally problematic for physicians who are accustomed to evidence-based practice, as they cannot be assured by empirical data that benefits outweigh possible harm.”

The survey was sent to 654 healthcare providers treating children with cancer. The practitioners were affiliated with either 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. Forty-four of those sent the survey responded.

The doctors replying to the survey ranged in age from 22 to 70. More than half of the respondents were under age 35, and 85% were women. At least one-third of those responding said they’ve been asked by patients for recommendations for medical marijuana. About 79% of those requests were to manage nausea and vomiting with 52% wanting to improve their appetites. Requests for medical marijuana certification regarding chronic pain was only noted about 26% of the time with depression and anxiety being requested 24% of the time.

Eight percent of respondents already do recommend patients for medical marijuana. The support for medical marijuana for children with cancer is staggering with 92% of those responded would recommend the treatment. The preferred method of delivery for children appears to be oral applications, as 89% support oral delivery. 57% say that smoking marijuana would be okay. 93% of those responding to the survey support research for medical marijuana for children with cancer.

The study’s authors said, “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.”

Regarding potential prosecution for recommending medical marijuana, 80% aren’t worried about it. The biggest concerns for providers are dosage, strength and delivery method.

The authors said, “Randomized clinical trials using MM [medical marijuana] formulations for supportive care in children with cancer are needed to better understand the therapeutic potential.”