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Med Schools Aren’t Prepping Doctors For Medical Marijuana

New doctors aren’t really prepared to prescribe medical marijuana, despite it being legal in some respect in nearly 30 states, a new study shows.

By David Royse | LedeTree.com

The survey, published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that most med school officials, residents and fellows don’t believe new graduates know enough about medical marijuana to prescribe its use.

“While medical marijuana use is legal in more than half of U.S. states, evidence is limited about the preparation of physicians-in-training to prescribe medical marijuana,” the study authors wrote.

Our study highlights a fundamental mismatch between the state-level legalization of medical marijuana and the lack of preparation of physicians-in-training to prescribe it. With even more states on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, physician training should adapt to encompass this new reality of medical practice.

The surveyors, from Washington University in St. Louis, queried 101 curriculum deans, and 258 residents and fellows and included 145 schools in their curriculum search. Nearly 67 percent of deans said graduates were “not at all prepared” to prescribe medical marijuana, and 25 percent said graduates weren’t even prepared to answer questions about medical marijuana.

Photo: Washington University of St. Louis Medical School

“The vast majority of residents and fellows (89.5%) felt not at all prepared to prescribe medical marijuana, while 35.3% felt not at all prepared to answer questions, and 84.9% reported receiving no education in medical school or residency on medical marijuana,” the survey found.

It also found that fewer than 10 percent of medical schools appear to have curriculum content on medical marijuana.

The study’s first author, third-year medical student Anastasia B. Evanoff, said the findings were worrying.

“We need to know how to answer questions about medical marijuana’s risks and benefits,” Evanoff said in a story on the Wash U medical school website.  “But there is a fundamental mismatch between state laws involving marijuana and the education physicians-in-training receive at medical schools throughout the country.”

Read the full survey at the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

About David Royse

David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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