3 out of 4 doctors recommend marijuana in New England Journal of Medicine poll

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In a poll by the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine released today, more than three out of four doctors recommended medical cannabis for a hypothetical late-stage breast cancer patient.

“We were surprised by the outcome of polling and comments, with 76% of all votes in favor of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes — even though marijuana use is illegal in most countries,” Jonathan N. Adler, M.D., and James A. Colbert, M.D. wrote for the NEJOM May 30th.

Marijuana is a federally illegal – schedule one drug – that the U.S. government claims has no medical value and is more dangerous than heroin or LSD. Yet 19 states have legalized cannabis for medical use, given its 10,000 year history as a safe herbal remedy for nausea, pain and insomnia among other conditions.

The Journal hosted an online poll called “Clinical Decisions“, presenting the case of “Marilyn”, a 68-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer and asked whether she should be prescribed marijuana to help alleviate her symptoms.

A total of 1446 votes were cast from 72 countries and 56 states and provinces in North America, and 118 comments were posted. Analysis of voting across all regions of North America showed that 76% of voters supported medicinal marijuana and 78% of voting doctors outside the U.S. supported the use of medicinal marijuana.

“J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Mayo Clinic, proposed the use of marijuana ‘only when conservative options have failed for fully informed patients treated in ongoing therapeutic relationships.’”

But politics has so poisoned health decisions in the U.S. that in anti-marijuana Utah, only 1% of 76 voting doctors supported medicinal marijuana. In Pennsylvania, 96% of voting doctors supported medicinal marijuana.

“Individual perspectives were as polarized as the experts’ opinions,” NEJOM found. “Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering. Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana.”

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