Last year, the website WebMD, a popular source of health advice from medical professionals, and Medscape, a web resource for physicians and health professionals that features peer-reviewed original medical journal articles and other resources for professionals and consumers, conducted a survey on medical marijuana.
The purpose of the survey was to assess support for medical marijuana in the medical community. The results from the survey, which included 1,544 doctors in 48 states across more than 12 specialty areas, showed that a significant majority of doctors believe medical marijuana can provide real benefits to patients and should be legalized nationwide.
While support varied by specialty, in every speciality area, a majority of doctors supported medical marijuana legalization. Unsurprisingly, when asked the question “does medical marijuana deliver real benefits to patients?”, oncologists demonstrated the highest level of agreement at 82%, while rheumatologists, at 54%, ranked lowest on the question. Overall, over two-thirds of U.S. doctors (69%) reported that they believe medical marijuana can help with various treatments and conditions.
WebMD’s chief medical editor Michael W. Smith, MD concluded, “The medical community is clearly saying they support using marijuana as a potential treatment option for any number of medical problems. In fact, many doctors already prescribe it.” Further, he believes the findings, “indicate a strong desire to have the DEA ease the restrictions on research so that additional studies can be done to conclusively show where medical marijuana can help and where it might not.”
Beyond the survey, many prominent physicians, researchers and others in the medical community, have voiced their support for medical marijuana.
Here are seven great quotes in support of medical marijuana:
Joycelyn Elders, MD: Former Surgeon General of the United States
In an article, “Myths About Medical Marijuana”, from 2004 (yes, you read that correctly, 2004), Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former vice admiral of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the first African American to serve as Surgeon General of the United States stated:
“The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.”
Philip Denney, MD: Award-winning physician and general practioner
Dr. Philip Denney, an award-winning physician with over 35 years of medical experience operates his own compassionate care clinic and has studied medical marijuana extensively. Based on his research and firsthand experience with patients, he has long been an ardent supporter of medical marijuana:
“I have found in my study of patients that cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications. There is no such thing as an overdose. We have seen very minimal problems with abuse or dependence, which at worst are equivalent to dependence on caffeine. While a substance may have some potential for misuse, in my opinion, that’s a poor excuse to deny its use and benefit to everyone else.”
Andrew Weil, MD: Physician and best-selling author
Citing the health benefits of medical cannabis found by numerous cultures over the last several thousand years, in an article, “Is Medical Marijuana Worth the Fight?”, Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician and successful author often described as a “guru” for holistic health, makes the argument:
“The multiple health benefits of cannabis have long been recognized…Cannabis, the genus of the plant known popularly as marijuana, was used as medicine in many cultures for as long as 3,000 years. American physicians employed a liquid extract to treat labor pains, asthma, nervous disorders and even colicky babies. But it was banned from medical use in the United States in 1942 and remained off-limits until individual states began to legalize medical marijuana in recent years.”
American Public Health Association: Professional education and advocacy association
In Nov. 2014, the American Public Health Association, a professional association dedicated to improving the public’s health through education and advocacy, issued a strong policy statement in support of not only medical marijuana, but a public health approach to control and regulate “legalized marijuana.”
The policy statement specifically called for, “a public health approach to regulating and controlling commercially legalized marijuana,” and urges “regulation of legalized marijuana be viewed as a public health priority.”
The APHA further argued: “Regulation will provide oversight of a market that is currently uncontrolled and can help address the unforeseen effects of marijuana legalization. If marijuana is legalized, federal, state, and local governments should develop, adopt, monitor, and evaluate strict regulatory mechanisms to control marijuana production, sales, and use while advancing the public health goals of preventing access by minors, protecting and informing consumers of legalized marijuana, and protecting third parties from unwanted consequences of legalized marijuana use.”
American Nurses Association: Professional association that represents U.S. nurses
In a policy statement issued in 2003, the American Nurses Association, a professional organization whose mission is to advance and protect the profession of nursing, stated:
“Marijuana has been smoked for its medicinal properties for centuries. The American Nurses Association has supported providing patients with safe access to therapeutic marijuana for over a decade. The ANA House of Delegates has gone on record as supporting nurses’ ‘ethical obligation to be advocates for access to healthcare for all’ including patients in need of ‘marijuana/cannabis for therapeutic use.’” (ANA, 2003).
Donald Abrams, MD: Chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital
In Dr. Donald Abrams’ research and first hand experience with patients facing a life-threatening illness, Dr. Abrams, the chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has found that marijuana helps patients sleep and elevates their mood.
Further, Dr. Abrams has found that marijuana, “is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.” Further he claims, “I could write six different prescriptions, all of which may interact with each other or the chemotherapy that the patient has been prescribed. Or I could just recommend trying one medicine, [marijuana].”
Sanjay Gupta, MD: Neurosurgeon & CNN reporter
After his cannabis conversion in 2013, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been a vocal proponent of medical marijuana. Dr. Gupta admitted, “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof…[cannabis] doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.”
Dr. Gupta succinctly articulated the long-held belief of many patients who’ve found tremendous relief from medical cannabis and the doctors who treat them. Simply, and and in no uncertain terms, Dr. Gupta stated:
It’s time for a medical marijuana revolution!