Survey data unveiled at the most recent annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting revealed that more than 90 percent of pediatric oncology doctors are in favor of allowing patient access to marijuana therapy.
The findings are important because even as legalization of medical marijuana has become more widespread, its use for pediatric patients is controversial. Access has increased, but it’s a controversial subject. There are many advocates who believe there is no situation in which children should be prescribed the drug.
These researchers sent the electronic survey to more than 650 pediatric oncologists at three National Cancer Institute centers in Washington state, Massachusetts and Illinois – three states that have legalized the drug for medicinal use. Nearly half of recipients responded. Of those who did, 92 percent said they were willing to help child cancer patients access medical marijuana to help manage their symptoms.
More than one-third conveyed their belief that cannabis therapy is appropriate in the early stages of cancer treatment. Nearly one-third said they had received requests from families or even patients personally to access medical marijuana therapy, and that they receive these questions at least once every month.
These findings mirror other previous findings.
For example, in 2013, researchers published a worldwide report in The New England Journal of Medicine that showed 76 percent of cancer doctors supported the use of medical marijuana to treat metastatic breast cancer. This was out of 1,446 doctors surveyed in 56 states and provinces globally. The results, researchers said, were “surprising” given the fact that marijuana is illegal in most parts of the world.
When researchers looked at the breakdown in the U.S., however, they saw widespread disparities. For example in Utah, only 1 percent of doctors supported the use of medical marijuana. But then in Pennsylvania, 96 percent of cancer doctors supported the use of medical marijuana in treatment.
Of those who voted in favor, they stated the view that those in the medical community are charged with alleviating suffering. They pointed out the known dangers of many prescription narcotics, and stated that medical marijuana is more widely supported by patients and, in their experience, provided marked benefits to those who suffered serious illness.
Another study commissioned in 2014 by Web MD asked 1,500 doctors their views on marijuana as having legitimate therapeutic benefits. More than 80 percent said that it did and 67 percent said it should be a legal, accessible therapeutic option for patients. The doctors in the state study hailed from a dozen different specialties.
Some doctors report changing their positions in recent years amid growing evidence following California’s legalization of medical marijuana that the drug actually works. For example, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, penned an article in 2013 titled, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed.” He used to be staunchly against marijuana as medicine because he believed, among other things, that the Drug Enforcement Administration had listed the substance as a Schedule I narcotic for good reason, based on solid scientific proof. But as it turns out, the science behind the claim that the drug has no accepted medicinal purpose (the threshold for a Schedule I) was not sound.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Survey: Pediatric Oncology Providers Favor Cannabis for Pediatric Treatment, June 7, 2016, By Paul Armentano, NORML/ The Daily Chronic
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