Doctors are stepping up efforts to educate doctors about medical marijuana and other non-drug options for treating patients with severe pain, and many are now allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana for pain relief.
A new survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges found that doctors in their specialty were asking for guidance on using medical cannabis, and more are making it available for patients who have other treatment options.
The survey, released Wednesday, found that 76% of physicians in their specialization were recommending medical marijuana as a treatment option.
And a majority of them are prescribing medical marijuana for a range of conditions, from cancer pain to chronic pain.
More than half of physicians surveyed in their field of care said they had prescribed cannabis to a patient who had a serious medical condition, such as a cancer or arthritis.
At the same time, nearly a quarter of doctors surveyed said they have not prescribed cannabis for pain management in the past year, and just a third said they’ve not prescribed the drug for pain.
The survey of nearly 2,000 medical professionals from across the country found that more than a quarter have prescribed cannabis or have some form of cannabis-based treatment for pain, with a few of the respondents saying they have prescribed the medication to someone who is suffering from a severe medical condition.
Medical marijuana is still illegal in the U.S., though some states are moving to allow its use.
The association said the survey also showed that doctors are becoming more open to prescribing cannabis to patients who are in pain, though they still tend to stay away from recommending it for serious illnesses.
“The fact that physicians are becoming increasingly open to discussing alternative medical treatments is a positive sign,” Dr. Michael Caudill, the association’s vice president for health policy, said in a statement.
“But it is also a sign that doctors remain deeply divided on the best way to provide these treatments to their patients.”