New opinion survey data about marijuana show some parallels in the attitudes of medical professionals and the general public. Each group is more likely to give the thumbs-up to legalized medical marijuana than to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
WebMD Health Corp. this week released results of “Marijuana on Main Street,” a report based on a WebMD survey of nearly 3,000 consumers from Feb. 23-26 and a Medscape survey of more than 1,500 physicians from Feb. 25-March 3. While 67% of surveyed physicians believe medical marijuana should be a medical option for patients, 53% of physicians would oppose national legalization of marijuana for recreational use, the report states.
Within the general public, there also was more support for medical marijuana than for outright legalization, although the gap in the assessment of the two was much smaller in the public's response than in physicians'.
The survey also found that doctors' views on marijuana appear to be influenced in part by their area of medical expertise. Oncologists and hematologists were among the specialists most supportive of making medical marijuana available, saying in large numbers that marijuana “can deliver real benefits that can help patients.”
The views of physicians practicing in states where medical marijuana has not been legalized remain split, with 50% of those physicians advocating legalizing medical use.
“The findings of our consumer-physician survey indicate the medical community's support for the use of marijuana as a treatment option, particularly among clinical specialties that have pioneered research,” WebMD chief medical editor Michael Smith, MD, said in a news release. “Yet these survey data suggest additional studies will inform decision-makers' confidence in where medical marijuana can help and where it might not.”
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