Cancer Patients and Veterans Report Similar Problems with Medical Cannabis: No Guidance from Doctors
Cultural attitudes and popular opinions about cannabis are changing daily, but in physicians’ offices and hospitals across America, patients consistently report both ignorance and denial when requesting doctor consultations about medical marijuana.
According to a new deep dive from NPR as part of the network’s ongoing series “This Moment in Cancer,” cancer patients across Massachusetts have expressed frustration with local physicians who offer little advice or guidance when it comes to medical marijuana, other than a simple “yes, you can look into it.”
Because cannabis is still a federally prohibited drug with no nationally recognized medical benefits, doctors cannot actually prescribe medical cannabis, but instead recommend patients for a state-approved program. Subsequently, hundreds if not thousands of cannabis-specific doctor’s offices have sprung up around the country to certify those in need. But for Americans with a serious illness and standard care, general practitioners are often uninformed, skeptical of medical cannabis, or too threatened by the drug’s federal status to even discuss it.
“I was flabbergasted that there was no real resource A, B and C, and ‘here’s how you do it,’ ” said Kate Murphy, a Massachusetts cancer survivor, to NPR about her experience trying to learn about medical cannabis. “What I liken it to is, ‘you need chemo, now go figure it out.’ “
Dr. Jordan Tischer, a former Massachusetts emergency room technician who left the hospital setting to open his own cannabis-specific clinics, inhaleMD, confirmed those inconsistencies in traditional treatment.
“By and large, physicians are simply saying, ‘yes, you can have it,’ and then stopping the conversation there,” Tischer told NPR.
According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer, that trend is common nationwide. In a survey of more than 900 Washington State cancer patients, researchers found almost one quarter of respondents had tried medical cannabis, while