Study: Majority of Physicians OK with MMJ for Kids with Cancer

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Most pediatric oncology providers are open-minded to the idea of medical marijuana use for their patients. Published in the journal Pediatrics, a December survey of health care providers discovered 92 percent of polled physicians in nonmedical marijuana states would consider providing children with cancer access to medical marijuana.

But while most doctors in nonmedical marijuana states who treat children with cancer said they would provide their tiniest patients with the plant’s medicinal cannabinoids – Oncologists in states with legalized medical marijuana seemed slightly more reluctant.

Of the polled health care professionals in medical marijuana states, only 85 percent said they’d be willing to grant access to medical marijuana.

Still classified as a Schedule I Narcotic within the Controlled Substance Act, physicians cannot legally prescribe marijuana. While they can “recommend” medical marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s official policy is that marijuana — including it’s cannabinoids and terpenes — have “no accepted medical use.”

A seemingly odd dichotomy, the co-author of the study, Kelly Michelson M.D., explained the prevailing trepidation. “It is not surprising that providers who are eligible to certify for medical marijuana were more cautious about recommending it, given that their licensure could be jeopardized due to federal prohibition.”

For the study, researchers sent a survey to 654 health care professionals at three pediatric cancer centers: 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. Survey results come from the 288 oncologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, and registered nurses who care primarily for children with cancer.

A critical care physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Michelson explained her colleague’s conundrum. “Institutional policies also may have influenced their attitudes. Lurie Children’s, for example, prohibits pediatric providers from facilitating medical marijuana access in accordance with the federal law, even though it is legal in Illinois.”

The study concluded, despite there being an “absence of standards,” most pediatric oncology providers would be willing “to consider MM [medical marijuana] use in children with cancer.”

About Author

Born in Long Beach, raised on the central coast: I surf, dab, burn, and blog – though not necessarily in that order. I’m a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I don’t drink alcohol or consume any other “drugs.” I consider myself to be living proof that weed is not a gateway drug. If it were, I’d be in some serious trouble. Instead, as a 50-year-old ex-realtor that has been smoking weed for nearly 80% of my life (just did the math) … I can only say, marijuana is safer than prescription pills or alcohol could ever hope to be for calming what stirs the savage beast.

3 Comments

  1. Kristin Wohlschlagel, RN on

    It is so sad that even in California (or perhaps it is *because* it is in California) even a transplant doctor in a major oncology center at a Kaiser facility is unaware of the Israeli research showing profound benefits of at least CBD in prevention and treatment of graft versus host disease. We have a little child that went from relapsed AML/ALL and moderate to severe Graft-vs-Host disease went from hospice-recommended to full remission on just oral cannabis medicines. Her doctors were not aware of the research nor interested in even reading the research. Perhaps because they have already pre-formed ideas about it.

    And those Israeli researchers even recommended further study into potential anti-leukemic effects beyond just control and prevention of GVHD. Some social scientist, some day, will have a hell of a thesis when they analyze the cognitive dissonance among healthcare professionals during this time of disruption in our understanding of the profound therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicine and the crucially important endogenous cannabinoid system. We can nudge/influence it in some profoundly important ways.

  2. I’m a pharmacist.
    MMJ and the different active compounds should be taught right alongside other medications. Then more medical professionals would discuss it and reduce the stigma of its benefit discussion. Right now it is completely being ignored by my profession.

  3. According to the sources, researchers sent a survey to 654 health care professionals at three pediatric cancer centers: 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. A very helpful post. Very informative.

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