Data from a new survey show that as many as 80 percent of oncologists have discussed medical marijuana use with their patients. According to the authors, this is the first nationally-representative survey to examine oncologists’ practices and beliefs on the subject since the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The research published online today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“Our study shows that medical marijuana is a salient topic in cancer care today, and the majority of oncologists think it may have utility for certain patients,” said study author Ilana Braun, MD, chief of the Division of Adult Psychosocial Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. “While this topic is common, however, data on medical marijuana use is less so. We need to bridge this gap so oncologists have the unbiased information they need to assist with decision-making related to medical marijuana use.”
California enacted the United States’ first medical marijuana law in 1996, and today its use is legal in more than 30 states, almost all which list cancer as a qualifying condition. In the 22 intervening years, however, no randomized clinical trial has investigated the utility of whole-plant medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as pain, insomnia, or nausea and vomiting in patients with cancer.