Nearly one-third of practicing family physicians in Colorado acknowledge issuing medical cannabis authorizations to their patients, according to survey data published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

A pair of researchers with the University of Colorado School of Medicine surveyed members of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians on their experiences with and attitudes toward medical cannabis. 

Thirty-one percent of respondents reported that they had recommended cannabis to a patient on at least one occasion. Among them, 42 percent had issued a medical cannabis authorization within the past year. Authorizing physicians were most likely to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer, cachexia, severe nausea, or persistent muscle spasms.

By contrast, nearly one-third of the survey’s total respondents said that their practice had policies in place that formally prohibited them from issuing medical cannabis recommendations to their patients. 

Overall, 57 percent of respondents agreed that “the FDA should reclassify marijuana so that it is no longer a Schedule I drug” under federal law – up from 37 percent in 2011.

According to a recent nationwide survey of US clinicians conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of respondents said they believed that cannabis possessed medical utility and more than one-in-four respondents (27 percent) acknowledged having authorized the use of cannabis for their patients.

Full text of the study, “Colorado family physicians and medical marijuana: Has recreational marijuana changed physician attitudes and behaviors,” appears in theJournal of the American Board of Family MedicineAdditional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Health Clinicians’ Attitudes Toward Cannabis.’

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